As for the Orioles, make no mistake, they weren't motivated to make this work. Players play day games after night games all the time and both the Orioles and White Sox had short trips into town last night. The Orioles obviously felt the NFL and Ravens were trying to bully them around, which a Peter Angelos-led organization is not going to stand for. That's all well and good but the result will be an empty Camden Yards tonight and very few Baltimore fans even watching the game from home, at least from the fifth inning or so on. An opportunity for a memorable sports day in the city was missed. It's a bad look all around.
Both of these teams have electric return men in Jacoby Jones and Trindon Holliday but it's going to be tough for them to factor into the game. Broncos kicker Matt Prater led the league last year in touchbacks, so Jones' chances may be minimal. And with so much change and so much youth on their coverage teams, I'd expect the Ravens to avoid Holliday at all costs after he burned them for two touchdowns in January.
This probably could be said about a lot of games, but I think the key to winning for the Ravens will be the play of their cornerbacks. You just know that Peyton Manning is licking his chops to test Lardarius Webb, who hasn't played a meaningful football game in 11 months, and can't wait to go after Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown, both of whom struggled in the preseason. And while Corey Graham picked off Manning twice in January, I think the quarterback will go at him as well, especially because Graham will be guarding Wes Welker more times than not. With Tom Brady throwing him the ball, Welker had a nice day against Graham in the AFC championship game.
The list of Ravens' inactives will probably come out about an hour and a half before kickoff but don't expect too much drama. Defensive end Arthur Jones has already been declared out, while center Ryan Jensen, wide receiver Deonte Thompson and defensive lineman Brandon Williams are all not expected to play. That's four of the eight spots right there.