It’s the reigning Super Bowl MVP vs. one of the most dominant quarterbacks of all-time. Does it get any better for a season opener?
Thursday, the Broncos will look for cold revenge on a warm Colorado night at Mile High, led by Peyton Manning at the helm.
This game will be different than the storybook battle in January—less chill, fewer Baltimore veterans, and much lower stakes (well, at least in the grand scheme of things).
As the banners on Mile High have signified, this one is Joe vs. Peyton, and contrary to what some may believe, the battle between the two quarterbacks will be close.
Flacco & co. trudge into Denver as 8.5-point underdogs. As we know, “Mr. Clutch” – a nickname I believe Joe has earned after his 11 TD 0 INT postseason performance – isn’t phased by the hate of the odds-makers…or anything, for that matter. He showed that he’s still same old Joe in this quote from BaltimoreRavens.com:
Talking about his banner at Mile High Stadium and the controversy, Joe said “I thought enough people don’t like me already… It’s all cool, being hated is not a bad thing.”
Neither is being an underdog. Remember the last time the team was doubted against the AFC West powerhouse?
For Flacco, he’ll be excited to play one of the tougher games on the schedule in the season-opener, as that’s historically been a game in which he has thrived. Averaging around 240 yards in openers, Joe has had great games in Week one (followed by some very poor ones the following week).
In the last two openers, Flacco has five touchdowns and no interceptions while putting up a passer rating of over 115.0 in both.
On Denver’s side, Manning has done just as well, averaging about 275 yards in his first game with nearly two touchdowns. He does have 13 interceptions in 14 games, but he has come out very sharp beginning the season. With all of the playmakers that this new Denver offense possesses, it’s going to be a battle of the guys under center.
Here are some more noteworthy stats and players to watch when the 2013 NFL season opens in just two days.
Since his second year, Terrell Suggs has 37 tackles in 8 season openers.
In his past three openers, Haloti Ngata has had dominant games, with 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Watch out for Demaryius Thomas who has a touchdown in all three of his first games with 26 targets.
With Tom Brady, Wes Welker averaged 7 grabs in openers since 2007.
All stats calculated via ESPN’s Game-By-Game Stats.