The divisional matchup is set for the Denver Broncos; they will take on the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of a week 15 win by the Broncos. The Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to advance to next Saturday’s game versus the Broncos.
While every game, especially playoff games, is dangerous; the Broncos have to feel very good about their chances of moving on to the AFC Championship Game. The offense for the Ravens struggled most of the day versus a Colts defense that is ranked towards the bottom of the league in most categories. Quarterback, Joe Flacco hit some big plays in the second half but the Broncos have not given up many of those types of plays during their 11 game winning streak. The Colts could not get consistent pressure on Flacco but when they did, it bothered him. The Broncos, by the numbers, have the best pass rush in the NFL. Flacco will not have the kind of time he had on Sunday.
Defensively, the Colts left a lot of plays on the field. They moved the football well all day but settled for four field goal attempts, three made, once getting to the red zone. While the Broncos struggled in the red zone early in the season, they have been terrific inside the 20 over the past four games. The Ravens were able to pressure Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck but they had three advantages that they will not have in Denver. The Colts offensive line has been suspect at times whereas the Broncos have protected Manning better than any other unit in the league. They also get Chris Kuper back and that will only improve the pass protection. Secondly, the Broncos will be at home and the Ravens will not have the crowd noise to help them get off the ball. As we’ve seen, when Manning wants quiet at home; he gets quiet. The last thing is Manning, himself, he makes quick decisions and gets rid of the ball. As great as Luck has been in his rookie season, he still doesn’t always trust his reads and holds onto the ball too long. If Manning gets time, he will pick that Ravens secondary apart just as he did on December 16th.
As for the emotion of Ray Lewis, it’s a factor but far less of one on the road. Broncos’ fans do not care if Lewis might be playing the last game of his career, they want to advance. If the Broncos jump out to a 14-0 lead, the Ravens can be as emotional as they want about Lewis and it won’t matter. We have all week to break down the game and offer predictions but Bronco fans have every reason to be extremely confident going into Saturday’s game.
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