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Keys for Ravens, keys for Broncos and a game prediction

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Keys for Ravens, keys for Broncos and a game prediction

DENVER – The Ravens open their season as underdogs on the road against the Broncos. It’s a marquee season-opening matchup between two AFC Super Bowl contenders. How will it play out? Here are three keys for both teams, and my prediction:

THE RAVENS WILL WIN IF:

1. Joe Flacco throws 30 passes or fewer.

The Ravens have won 10 straight when Flacco has 30 attempts or less. If that happens against the Broncos, it will likely mean running back Justin Forsett is having a big day, and that the Ravens’ aren’t playing from behind. A balanced attack is he Ravens’ best chance..

2. WR Steve Smith has at least 50 yards receiving.

That doesn’t seem like a high number for Smith. But the Broncos will do everything in their power to nullify Smith, and to make another Ravens receiver beat them. If Smith still has an impact, I like the Ravens’ chances. In games in which Smith had 50 yards or more last season, the Ravens were 9-1.

3.  The Ravens’ defense holds Peyton Manning and the Broncos to 24 points or less.

RELATED: Kubiak, Trestman hope to unveil potent offense Sunday

The Ravens have won seven straight when keeping opponents from surpassing 24. But the defense has a new look. Tackle Haloti Ngata (Lions) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (Bears) are gone. With tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee) out, rookie tackle Carl Davis will start, and Will Hill and Kendrick Lamar will make their debut as the starting tandem at safety. Can this defense keep the Broncos from exploding? If they only get 24 or less, I say the Ravens win.

THE BRONCOS WILL WIN IF:

1. They keep linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil away from Manning:

Even if they don’t sack Manning, Suggs and Dumervil have to hurry Manning and throw off his timing. If they can’t, it could be a long day for the Ravens’ defense.

2. Pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have a big day.

The main challenge for the Ravens’ offensive line will be keeping Miller and Ware away from Flacco. The Ravens’ line returns all five starters. They will earn their money today.

3. The Ravens can’t matchup with the Broncos wide receivers 

Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both had over 1,400 yards last season.  Even if Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith plays at a high level, can nickel corner Lardarius Webb and nickel corner Kyle Arrington keep from getting picked on?

PREDICTION: This is a tough Week 1 assignment for the Ravens. I see them playing well, but not well enough. Broncos 31, Ravens 24.

MORE RAVENS: Will WR Smith avoid another skirmish with Talib?

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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

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USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

If you want to sign Dez Bryant in 2018, it will have to be on a one-year deal.

The 29 year-old wide receiver turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of finding a one-year deal that enables him to test the open market again in 2019, Ed Werder of The Doomsday Podcast first reported.

Bryant - who finished 2017 with 69 receptions, 838 yards and six touchdowns -  is predicating a bounce back season in 2018 with hopes of a big money, long-term contract in 2019.

The offer was similar to that of Michael Crabtree's three-year, $21 million deal, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. The Ravens had to offer Bryant a multi-year deal in order to fit his number under the salary cap.

Since turning down their offer, the Ravens signed former Saints WR Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million contract. 

Bryant will now have to wait until after the 2018 NFL Draft to work out a deal with an organization, if one is still searching for a wide receiver going in to the tail end of his career. 

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Ahead of NFL Draft, Ravens add to wide receiver corps with Willie Snead

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USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of NFL Draft, Ravens add to wide receiver corps with Willie Snead

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Receiver Willie Snead has bid farewell to the Saints, which means New Orleans apparently won't match the contract the Baltimore Ravens offered the restricted free agent.

Eager to add a target for quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens on Friday offered Snead a two-year, $10.4 million contract. The Saints had five days to match the deal. Snead indicated Monday on Twitter that he's headed out of New Orleans.

Snead tweeted: "What I'm going to miss most is the men in the locker room & the coaches."

He added: "Even though I'm sad to go, I'm even more excited for the next chapter in my life. I can't wait to strap it on as a Baltimore Raven."

Hampered by a three-game suspension and a hamstring injury, Snead was limited to eight catches for 92 yards last year.

In 2015, he had 69 receptions for 984 yards. He caught 72 passes for 895 yards in 2016.

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