Last night’s NFL starter saw the defending Super Bowl Champs suffer the largest margin of defeat on opening night in history because, well, they’re not very good this year. NBC should’ve seriously considered pushing for a better matchup. You don’t need to be a soothsayer to see the Baltimore Ravens on the road in a notoriously hostile stadium against a vastly superior team meant blow-out was in the cards.
The game had elements of the ridiculous from the get-go. A 30-minute weather delay for lightening in the area started things off. Then there was the convoluted explanation for the Ravens’ road game, which involved a conflict with an Orioles’ home game in its neighboring stadium in Baltimore. Bad juju was in the air, and Flacco was out west and looking kinda Custer-like.
And so, a slaughter. Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns last night, two of which went to his newest security blanket Wes Welker. The defense for the Broncos started tepidly but went on to dominate – particularly as the secondary completely shut down the Ravens’ receiving corps. The second half was so excruciatingly crushing that I concerned myself more for the welfare of the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. The Broncos were just mopping up when I left the show feeling for the Ravens’ embarrassment.
Are the Broncos as good as the Ravens appeared bad? They certainly look like a great team. They have best-of weapons in all key areas of their game. The addition of Wes Welker gives Manning many more first downs, which will extend his Time Of Possession. The Broncos will get Von Miller back to boost to an already vaunted defensive unit. Despite giving up 27 points, they caused a lot of havoc in the pocket for Flacco and caused more than a couple turnovers. Giving the ball back to Manning is going to spell anyone’s doom.
But, dear Broncos’ fans, don’t go thinking 19-0. You are favorably located in what is easily the worst division in football, so you’ve got that going for you, which is nice. So, I might spot you another 14-2 as a worst case scenario. But then there’re the playoffs. History has not been kind to Manning Magic in the post-season, which tends to dissipate the magic and render him more mere-mortal. The playoffs are a different beast entirely. Broncos’ fantasy stats are irrelevant as coaches start to really grind their opponents down. The Broncos will roll into the playoffs, but I don’t see a ticker-tape parade at the end of this season.