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Broncos looking for payback

Denver should beat Ravens in divisional playoff rematch

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Expect Denver quarterback Peyton Manning to exploit a retooled Ravens defence in tonight's season opener.

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ACHIVES Enlarge Image

Expect Denver quarterback Peyton Manning to exploit a retooled Ravens defence in tonight's season opener.

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 tonight 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 post-season 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 as a nine-point favourite over Baltimore. The Ravens have had all kinds of off-season upheaval, particularly to the defence, 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 defence, 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.

BRONCOS, 24-21

 

Minnesota (plus 4 1/2) at Detroit

Until further notice, pick Adrian Peterson against a bad defence.

UPSET SPECIAL: VIKINGS, 29-27

 

New England (minus 10) at Buffalo

The mismatch of the weekend. The Bills never beat Patriots even when healthy, which they aren't.

BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 37-10

 

Oakland (plus 9 1/2) at Indianapolis

Another good choice for Best Bet.

COLTS, 27-13

 

Philadelphia (plus 3 1/2) at Washington

This one gets lots of eyeballs as RG3 returns and Chip Kelly's Quack Attack debuts for Philly.

REDSKINS, 22-20

 

Green Bay (plus 4 1/2) at San Francisco

Are Niners a little full of themselves? Seems so, but maybe cockiness is warranted.

49ERS, 30-28

 

Tennessee (plus 7) at Pittsburgh

Two of 2012's biggest flops. Steelers at home get the edge in close one.

STEELERS, 19-17

 

Atlanta (plus 3) at New Orleans

Emotional return of coach Sean Payton mimics emotional return of Saints to Big Easy after Hurricane Katrina.

SAINTS, 37-35

 

Seattle (minus 3) at Carolina

Seahawks don't always travel well to East Coast. Shouldn't matter for an opener, though.

SEAHAWKS, 23-14

 

Arizona (plus 4 1/2) at St. Louis

Rams continue 2012 mastery within division.

RAMS, 20-13

 

Tampa Bay (minus 3) at New York Jets

Revis returns to his old island, uh, house, and cleans up.

BUCCANEERS 24-10

 

New York Giants (plus 3) at Dallas

Giants always win in Jerry's house.

GIANTS, 31-27

 

Cincinnati (plus 3) at Chicago

Tough place for AFC contender Bengals to open.

BEARS, 17-13

 

Miami (pick-em) at Cleveland

Tough pre-season for Dolphins, but good start to regular season.

DOLPHINS, 16-13

 

Houston (minus 3 1/2) at San Diego

Texans believe they are Super Bowl capable. Such teams don't lose such games.

TEXANS, 27-16

 

Kansas City (minus 3 1/2) at Jacksonville

A pair of 2-14 teams from last year. Only Chiefs headed in right direction.

CHIEFS, 20-9

 

2012 RECORD:

Against spread: 120-127-7. Straight up: 166-96-1

Best Bet: 9-8-2 against spread, 13-6 straight up.

Upset special: 11-8 against spread, 9-10 straight up.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2013 D4

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