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5 things to watch for in NFL opener: Broncos vs. Ravens

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 5:17 p.m. MDT

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco passes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Baltimore, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Baltimore defeated Atlanta 27-23. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco passes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Baltimore, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Baltimore defeated Atlanta 27-23. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

DENVER — John Elway has been down this lonely road before, trudging through the tunnel in deafening silence after a stunning loss at home as the AFC's prohibitive Super Bowl favorite following a 13-3 regular season.

It happened to Elway the quarterback after the 1996 season when Denver lost to Jacksonville 30-27. It occurred again for Elway the executive in January when the Broncos were beaten 38-35 by Baltimore in the divisional round.

Elway rebounded the first time to win back-to-back Super Bowls. He said the pain of that pratfall against the Jaguars was the impetus to make them into champions.

"It was a great incentive for us to come back and have an even better year the following year," Elway said.

After engineering a $125 million offseason spending spree and acquiring wide receiver Wes Welker and massive right guard Louis Vasquez — to help new center Manny Ramirez fend off the likes of Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata — Elway is aiming for history to repeat itself after this latest heartbreak.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Trindon Holliday (11) catches a kickoff by the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)  (Jack Dempsey, AP) Denver Broncos wide receiver Trindon Holliday (11) catches a kickoff by the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) (Jack Dempsey, AP)

Five things to watch for as the Broncos kick off the season tonight against the champion Ravens:

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