The Baltimore Ravens may be the Super Bowl champions, but they are certainly not Super Bowl favorites to win this season’s big game. After an offseason of losing high-profile players, the Ravens will be put to a major test when they play the Denver Broncos later tonight.
Yes, it’s early, but it’s never too early to start figuring out where teams stand. It’s assumed that the Denver Broncos will be one of the best teams in the league. Any team led by Peyton Manning is a playoff-caliber unit, and the Broncos have what should be a respectable defensive unit as well. Many predict the Broncos will be in the Super Bowl, making them a perfect measuring stick for the defending champs.
Unlike the Broncos, the Ravens play in a very competitive division, making tonight’s game that much more important. The Steelers may have made some gains throughout the offseason, although their preseason performances haven’t reflected those gains. The Bengals are also in the running for a divisional title after adding more talent to an already solid lineup.
Even with their losses, the Ravens’ most important players are still intact. Ray Rice will still be carrying the Ravens’ running load, and Joe Flacco is still the team’s trigger man.
Really though, we’re not interested in what the Ravens’ current players can do on the field. We’re really wondering exactly what the impact of the team’s losses will be. At the end of his career, Ray Lewis was certainly a team leader, but his on-field performance was nothing that can’t be replaced. Ed Reed’s ball-hawking ability will be sorely missed on the back end of the team’s defense, however.
Week one games never tell the whole story of a season, but we can start to see exactly where some of the AFC’s best teams stand after tonight, but more importantly, it’s time to get back to real football.