Broncos WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders vs. Ravens CBs Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb: The Broncos give quarterback Peyton Manning serious weapons in Sanders and Thomas, both of whom are Pro Bowl receivers. Thomas is big and a prime target inside the red zone. Smith and Webb have to show that they have fully recovered from injuries. Smith started off strong in training camp but slowed at the end of preseason. Webb was injured often throughout the preseason and is a major concern going into the game. Edge: Broncos.
Broncos C Matt Paradis and RG Louis Vasquez vs. Ravens NT Brandon Williams and DT Timmy Jernigan: Denver is weak on the interior offensive line and the Ravens have to take advantage. To put pressure on Manning, the key is to collapse the pocket inside so he has no place to step up when passing. If the Ravens win these battles, it dramatically improves their chances of winning. Edge: Ravens.
Broncos OLB DeMarcus Ware vs Ravens OTs Eugene Monroe and Rick Wagner: Ware earned his eighth Pro Bowl selection last season after he finished with 40 tackles, including 10 sacks. He is usually on the weak side, where he can use his speed and power to beat tackles one on one. Monroe had a good preseason and is eager to regain his stature after a poor showing last year. Wagner surprised the Ravens last season as a starter, but was slowed in training camp and the preseason with leg injuries. Edge: Broncos.