It's official: Ravens open season in Denver

As expected, the Baltimore Ravens will begin their defense of their Super Bowl title in Denver on Thursday, Sept. 5, the NFL officially announced Thursday night.

Having the Ravens kick off the 2013 season in Denver has been widely speculated ever since the Ravens were unable to resolve a scheduling conflict with the Orioles for that Thursday night. The Ravens become the first defending Super Bowl champion to open on the road since 2003, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the season at Philadelphia on "Monday Night Football."

This matchup has a lot of national appeal. It's a rematch of last season's epic, double-overtime AFC divisional playoff game in Denver, where the Ravens won 38-35 on the wings of Joe Flacco's last-minute, 70-yard miracle touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones in the final minute of regulation. It's also marks the return of pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil to Denver since a fax debacle allowed him to become a free agent and sign with Baltimore.

When the Ravens learned that they couldn't play at home on Sept. 5, the team still wanted to play on that Thursday night even if it meant playing on the road. The Ravens see it as a big advantage to play three days before the rest of the league, because it gives them an extra mini-bye. This also allows the Ravens to get their longest road trip of the season out of the way in Week 1.

Also, the Ravens will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night at M&T Bank Stadium.