Ever since the NFL announced that the champion Ravens would open the season at Denver, the Broncos have been salivating over a chance to get back at Baltimore.
That opportunity comes Thursday night in the Mile High City, where the Ravens staged that sensational late comeback in the divisional playoff game last January before beating the Broncos in double overtime.
Anyone who says there is no carryover from previous seasons shouldn't bother watching this one, because it will disprove that theory — big time.
"I think as a team, this is our year," said cornerback Rahim Moore, whose misplay on a deep pass to Jacoby Jones in the final minute of regulation helped Baltimore tie the postseason matchup. "I think we're going to do some big things. It's not going to be easy. Not at all. We have to remain the hunters. But we do have a chip on our shoulders, too."
Oddsmakers believe that's more of a boulder on their shoulder, and have installed Denver (tied No. 2, AP Pro32) as a 9-point favorite over Baltimore (No. 8, AP Pro32). The Ravens have had all kinds of offseason upheaval, particularly to the defense, which no longer has Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Bernard Pollard.
It's never wise to underestimate a defending champion, though. Peyton Manning might have his way with the retooled Baltimore defense, or the proud Ravens just might pull off a surprise as Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco takes advantage of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller's absence due to suspension.
That spread is too high.
No. 16 Minnesota (plus 4 1-2) at No. 19 Detroit
Until further notice, pick Adrian Peterson against a bad defense.
UPSET SPECIAL: VIKINGS, 29-27
No. 5 New England (minus 10) at No. 29 Buffalo
The mismatch of the weekend. Bills never beat Patriots even when healthy, which they aren't.