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Michael Taylor 12th Sep 2010 - 15:53

Ravens can edge past Jets in week one

Week one of the NFL finishes on a high note with three playoff contenders kicking off their campaigns.

The San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and the newly homed New York Jets are all aiming for winners rings this year at Super Bowl XLV, which ones will get off to the perfect start though?

Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets

Mark Sanchez had his ups and downs in his rookie season, luckily Rex Ryan's Jets could turn to Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and Leon Washington when he struggled.

This year it seems a bigger contribution could be required from the second year quarterback though with only Greene returning and new acquisition LaDainian Tomlinson having much to prove before he can be considered an elite back again.

Sanchez's job really shouldn't be too tricky with the set of receivers he has at his disposal and the line protecting him, it's just essential he cuts down the amount of interceptions he threw after getting picked off twenty times in 2009.

Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller have all proved to be threats throughout their careers and the Jets' chances against the Ravens depends massively on Sanchez finding his range early.

Admittedly it's a tough job against the Ravens ultra tough defence that includes Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Kelly Gregg and second round rookie Terrence Cody, fresh off a National Championship winning season with Alabama.

Ed Reed and Domonique Foxworth may be missing but don't be fooled into thinking the tempo will slow on John Harbaugh's defence.

The offence looks pretty sharp as well with Ray Rice looking to build on a career year and Joe Flacco becoming more confident under center every year.

They've shrewdly added Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmandzadeh to the receiving pool to give themselves a look of genuine Super Bowl contenders, it's up to them to prove just that and quieten the New Meadowlands crowd.

It's a real tough one to call in the first week but on paper you have to like the Ravens at 11/10 on the money line while my preferred bet is the under 36 total points at 10/11.

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

The final game of the day looks a lot easier to call as the Chargers look to continue their dominance of the Kansas City Chiefs in an intriguing AFC West match-up.

Last year Phillip Rivers was tremendous in both games, seemingly finding gaping holes at will firstly in the 37-7 romp in Kansas and then again in the 43-14 battering in California.

It's a familiar story for the Chiefs and one that could be unavoidable again given their lack of big off-season moves.

Matt Cassel looked like a huge waste of money in his first season although it wasn't ideal that his line gave him little protection and he had few good targets.

Todd Haley now has Thomas Jones at his disposal which may aid the former Patriot, I wouldn't bank on it though and I'd expect to see the Chargers dominate control of the ball in this one.

It'll be interesting to see whether the 3-4 defence has more success this year, it could be difficult to find out here though against Rivers, Antonio Gates, Jacob Hester etc. in what ranks as easily the best offence in the AFC West.

A particularly interesting prospect is seeing how Ryan Matthews fares in his debut alongside Darren Sproles.

Matthews was one of the most exciting running backs in the 2010 draft and comes in as the direct replacement for Tomlinson - quite a situation for the youngster out of Fresno State.

Ideally he'd love to get off the mark early and at 9/2 to score the first touchdown of the game he could prove great value.

Whatever the individual battles I can't see anything other than another large San Diego win with the -4.5 spread surely not enough to stop them at 10/11.


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