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Five stats that stand out ahead of Sunday's Ravens season opener against Denver Broncos

Five stats that stand out ahead of Sunday's Ravens season opener against Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell catches a 28-yard pass before running in for the touchdown in front of Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)

What better way to prepare for a game involving two teams with bright futures for the 2015 season than to look back at stats stretching as far back as 15 years in an effort to handicap Sunday's game?

In all seriousness, the season opener between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens is rich with background and shared history, so here are five stats you'll need to know before kickoff on Sunday.

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14-1 – The Denver Broncos have changed coaches, quarterbacks, and schemes probably a half-dozen times in this span, but it bears noting that the Broncos have won 14 of their last 15 home openers at altitude. The Ravens are 5-10 in that span in road openers, many of which have come against division opponents.

109.6 – Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, buoyed by his downright naughty 462-yard, seven touchdown performance in the 2013 season opener against the Ravens, has a career 10-3 record against the Ravens in the regular season. He hasn't lost a regular season game against the Ravens since 2001, and boasts a 109.6 passer rating in those games. He's been stymied before — the 2006 divisional round playoff game comes to mind, and he threw a costly interception in the 2013 divisional round — but Manning typically has his way against the Ravens.

24 – Ravens pass rushers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs had the most combined sacks of any teammates with 29 last year, but Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware weren't far behind with 24. Denver could have one of the most feared pass rushes in the league, with rookie Shane Ray also mixed in on passing downs. It might feel like starting tackles Rick Wagner and Eugene Monroe are back at practice with the quality of pass rush they'll face on Sunday.

114 – The last meeting between these two teams will be remembered as a bad night for cornerback Corey Graham, but it didn't go well for Jimmy Smith, either. He allowed 114 yards on six catches, including a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus, representing nearly 20 percent of the production he allowed for the entire season. By comparison, Smith allowed 163 yards in his injury-shortened, eight-game season last year. Him being that player, not the one who opened 2013 in Denver, likely will be important for the Ravens.

9 – On average in 2014, Ravens inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith were targeted in coverage nine times per game, which is understandable given how much space they're responsible for underneath the Ravens' typical cover-3 umbrella. Those nine targets will probably be exceeded Sunday. Everyone knows the Ravens are in for a heavy dose of Broncos tight end Owen Daniels, while running back C.J. Anderson averaged five catches per game once he became the starter last season. With three new starters on the offensive line, including a center whose first NFL snap will come Sunday, Manning likely will want to get the ball out quickly. That could mean a lot of work in coverage for the linebackers underneath.

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