TNF Primer: Ravens-Broncos

Predicting line movement and ATS picks from four wiseguys

Updated: September 5, 2013, 12:53 PM ET
By Jeff Gold | ESPN Insider

Joe Flacco, Peyton ManningGetty ImagesJoe Flacco and Peyton Manning get a rematch of last season's AFC divisional playoff game.

Finally, the NFL is back. Months betting on golf majors, baseball totals and the MTV video music awards can be replaced by glorious opportunities to sweat backdoor covers and seven-team teasers.

If you're new to the industry or a veteran looking for insight, be sure to check out Chad Millman's NFL gambling guide to get you ready for the season. There are a lot of interesting nuggets.

So, as has been tradition since 2004, the defending champion opens up the season. But because of the Baltimore Orioles' stubbornness and unwillingness to change their schedule, the Ravens are playing on the road, and open up as a huge underdog in Denver -- the site of last season's unbelievable divisional playoff game. The line has fluctuated a bit between Broncos minus-7.5 and minus-9.5, but always has remained more than a touchdown. Obviously, the Ravens aren't the prototypical defending champion. They underwent a substantial makeover, with the likes of Ray Lewis (retirement), Ed Reed (free agency, Texans) and Anquan Boldin (trade, 49ers) departing.

Think about this oddity for a second: Prior to the Bills' quarterback situation entering a complete state of flux with the EJ Manuel injury, the Ravens -- the defending champions -- were in contention with the Raiders (at Colts) to be the biggest underdog on opening night. The Ravens are sure to play the disrespect card. Bank on that.

Since the NFL began having the defending champion open the season, that team always has been favored and is 6-2-1 in those games. Again, those were all at home with a charged-up crowd welcoming back the defending champs. Last season, the Ravens were just 6-9-1 against the spread (ATS) in the regular season, while the Broncos were 10-5-1.

Enjoy the season.

Let's get analysis on the line and total from Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel and handicapping advice from four wiseguys.


Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

Spread: Opened at Broncos -9.5, now -7.5
Total: Opened at 49.5; now 48.5


To read more about how to bet the Ravens-Broncos game, including an ATS pick from four wiseguys, you must be an ESPN Insider.