The Denver Broncos might have some serious injury problems on defense, but that isn't changing the fact that Denver is a considerable favorite for tonight's regular-season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Remember: Due to a scheduling conflict with Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles, the Ravens are forced to begin their title defense in prime time on the road, which hasn't happened since the league started pitting the reigning champs against a top rival in the Thursday night opener 10 years ago.
That's a major advantage for the Broncos, who went 7-1 at Mile High last season, winning their final six home games by an average of 21 points per outing. Seriously.
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys snapped an eight-game streak in which the defending champ won the annual prime-time opener at home. Between 2004 and 2011, the Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Giants, Saints and Packers beat their respective opponents by an average of 10 points per game. Dominance in front of the home crowd, which is understandable considering the emotions attached to such games.
But Dallas beat the Giants 24-17 at MetLife Stadium last year, and now the Broncos are expected to beat the Ravens at their own stadium this time.
Baltimore may have beaten the Broncos right here last year in the playoffs, but that was an "any given Sunday" victory. Denver has the better quarterback and had a solid offseason, adding Wes Welker to the fray. The Ravens, on the other hand, lost more than half of their starting defense in the offseason.
Dannell Ellerbe is in Miami. Paul Kruger is in Cleveland. Ed Reed is in Houston. Bernard Pollard is in Tennessee. Cary Williams is in Philadelphia. Ray Lewis is at ESPN.
The Ravens don't look or feel like a Super Bowl team right now, and that probably makes sense when you consider that the seven Super Bowl champions that preceded them all failed to make it back.
Look for the Broncos to roll tonight.