Get Your Bucks off the Broncos
Tonight the much-anticipated 2013 NFL season kicks off in Denver, where the Broncos host the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Bovada has Denver listed as a 7½-point favorite. The total at Bovada is at 48½, and while the over is a tempting play here, I think the strongest play is to simply take the Ravens and the points.
Much is being made of the "revenge" factor here for Denver, after losing in heart-breaking fashion to the Ravens in the playoffs back in January. But emotional hype is one thing I normally don't get caught up in when it comes to picking winners. It sells tickets, makes for good TV, and may influence the home crowd, but for the players between the lines, it's about coaching, game planning, and executing the plan. With all that in mind, it's hard to turn down just over a touchdown in points to back the defending Super Bowl champs.
Two of the most significant losses from the Ravens include the retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis, and the departure of free agent wideout Anquan Boldin to San Francisco. However, in quarterback Joe Flacco, runningback Ray Rice, and wide receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens still have a lot of offensive firepower. Former Bronco Elvis Dumerville is now a part of the Ravens defensive unit helping fill the void left by Lewis.
Denver has added Wes Welker as a slot receiver to the mix, and look for Peyton Manning to throw his way a lot. But beyond that, the most significant changes for Denver are the losses of Dumerville, cornerback Champ Bailey (injured), and Von Miller (suspended).
What is significant to me is some information you can find by using the Bovada data tool on the Home page. First of all, there is Baltimore's 8-2 record covering the spread against the Broncos in their last 10 games. Secondly, Baltimore has beaten Denver in two of the last three games straight up.
The betting public has started sensing the 8½ and 9 points Baltimore was getting several days ago were too many, and that has driven a lot of action Baltimore's way, bringing the number down to 7½ in most places. I still have a hard time buying that Denver has gone from losing to Baltimore in one game and beating them by eight or more in the next without any more additions than Denver has had; nothing against Welker, but that's not enough to sway tonight's margin that much.
All the Ravens have done between their last Denver game and this one is win an AFC Championship and Super Bowl.
They will feel the losses of Lewis and Boldin, but they still have plenty left and they are still the defending Super Bowl champs. I will take them and the 7½ and feel very good in doing so.
My pick: Baltimore Ravens + 7½
Result ... Denver 49 Baltimore 27 Broncos cover
Steve Soprano is the founder and handicapper at www.premierticketsports.com.