The reigning champions will get a chance to defend their Super Bowl XLVII title in a nationally broadcast prime time season opener this Thursday, but don’t expect the NFL betting community to side with the Baltimore Ravens in the Week 1 affair. Favored by nine points on the NFL moneyline, the Denver Broncos are the team in the driver’s seat.
Having, presumably, learned a lesson in their divisional round exit last winter to the Ravens, the Broncos are back and better than ever in 2013. The addition of Wes Welker in the receiving corps and Rookie of the Year candidate Montee Ball serve as the perfect complements to the veteran under center.
That’s right — even at the ripe old age of 37, Peyton Manning’s years of experience in the Mile High City should serve him well, perhaps making the future Hall of Famer even deadlier than ever.
The circumstances are enough to put the Broncos at the top of the NFL futures with 6-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl this season, but all of those plus home-field advantage in their season opener give them the overwhelming point spread advantage.
While the Ravens have 2012 bragging rights in their corner, and a significantly richer Joe Flacco starting under center, it’s unclear what sort of club they’ll end up being in 2013.
It’s hard to think another championship is in order with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin having all moved on. NFL oddsmakers are skeptical, granting the team just a meager 8.5 projected win total, comparable to the unproven Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins.
The Broncos, in contrast, have a projected win total of 11.5 and sit at the forefront of the sportsbook in the days leading up to the regular season. Not only are the Broncos expected to thrive as a franchise, but their ace is as well. If 2012 was Manning’s comeback campaign, then 2013 may well be the start of his swan song. The veteran has 5-1 odds of winning the MVP this season, 7-1 odds of leading the NFL in passing yards and a lot of motivation to push through the regular-season grind and clinch the second title of his career.
Whether looking for the Broncos to go on the fast track to Super Bowl XLVIII success, or in simply gauging just how well the Ravens may fare on the NFL moneyline in the future, the Thursday night season opener is a can’t-miss debut.