Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens

There was a lot of symmetry in the season opener on Thursday between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos. First, via Bruce Arthur, last year’s Super Bowl blackout delay lasted 34 minutes, while Thursday’s lightning delay was, well, 34 minutes. When Peyton Manning took the field — and then left the field, and then took the field again, repeat a few times possibly — and stared across at his opponent, there was some symmetry in the quarterbacks as well. Sure, it’s hard to boil down careers, let alone quarterback comparisons, to the jewelry on their fingers, but there was Manning — he of the one Super Bowl ring and countless other disappointments — looking at Joe Flacco, he also of the one Super Bowl ring and the first quarterback in league history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. That stat kind of frightened me because Mark Sanchez was actually two-fifths of the way there after his second season until the Jets reverted back to form and righted the universe in their own special way.

All the symmetries would be pushed aside though by the second half, as Manning put up the more crooked of crooked numbers with seven touchdown passes. The last guy to do it, as Manning quipped post-game, was “a Canadian quarterback out of Cal who kicked the crap out of a guy on YouTube a couple of years ago.” That would be Joe Kapp, and this would be the YouTube video in question.

Of course, a performance like this in week 1 might cause a lot of people to convince themselves that the Broncos are the favorites in the AFC. But the title of favorite will probably be a moving target as the season rolls up. After all, how many seasons of this do we need until we realize that even though the season is only 17 weeks plus the playoffs, things change? They change fast. They change often. One constant: It’s always changing. I mean, if you want to check the power rankings in say week 10 of the last few seasons, go ahead, this column will be here waiting for you to check back. If you actually go through with the exercise, you’d think the New York Giants won every Super Bowl since you started learning what the Roman numeral equivalent for 40 was.

So there’s your super long introduction to what will hopefully be a weekly winners and losers column throughout the season. Let’s get to it. Because of the timing of the article, all Monday Night Football participants are exempt from making the list. Lucky them.