Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NFL Kickoff Thursday: Peyton's Place

Mr. Regular Season will Shine Thursday Night
Baltimore at Denver (-7.5)
The NFL season is finally upon us. Its been just under 8 months since Rahim Moore opted to do his best impression of what Tony Romo would look like, if Tony Romo played secondary; choking in the biggest moment of the game, on the biggest (ok, not the biggest, but pretty big) stage in football.

Joe Flacco's 70 yard bomb heard around the world, on 3rd down with 31 seconds left in regulation and zero timeouts, was certainly one of the most amazing plays of the 2012 NFL campaign. It sent the game into OT, it helped propel the Ravens onto the Conference Championship, and eventually on to Super Bowl Champions.

When Jacoby Jones came down with that ball and then essentially walked into the end zone, Raven Nation and all it's loud, obnoxious, drunk, "daddy issues" fans, didn't know whether to grab another Natty Boh or hide all their bloody white suits.

Lost in that final play and what many felt was Rahim Moore's fatal mistake, was the god awful game one Peyton Manning had (two picks, one fumble), and the fact that had Denver's special teams (two touchdowns) not looked like a 1990's Virginia Tech ST wrecking crew, Baltimore could've been up by two scores with 31 seconds to go, instead of down one.

But don't expect so many variables to come crashing into one game again with this meeting. Peyton will be regular season Peyton, and not only will Baltimore be suffering the lingering effects of a Super Bowl winning hangover, but that team is a shell of it's Super Bowl winning self.

They lost 8 starters to either free agency or retirement, including 6 on the defensive side of the ball. I don't care what kind of friggin' genius Ozzie Newsome is- and he has done one hell of a job as the Ravens' GM, you don't lose over 1/3 of your starting players and not feel the negative effects of it the following year. Especially in week 1.

Baltimore has covered 5 straight opening day games, but I'm obviously throwing that trend out here. I don't like how many players Baltimore lost, I like Manning at home in September, and I'd expect this game to go a lot like the one they played last year- in December, in Baltimore- where the Ravens got absolutely housed, 34-17. Denver and their 3rd ranked defense forced two Baltimore turnovers-one of which was a 98 yard pick six, and they held Ray Rice to just 38 yards rushing. Mr. Regular Season, Peyton Manning, had won 9 straight meetings versus Baltimore prior to that heartbreaking Divisional round loss. Broncos avenge that loss on Thursday night in a big way, 33-16.

4 more NFL ATS winners will be released on Saturday. A total of 5 ATS picks will be made each week, as "Yack" has entered the 2013 Las Vegas Hilton Super Contest, where the best ATS prognosticators are rewarded at season's end. You can follow along here each week. @Sportsyack on Twitter.

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