Ravens at Broncos: 2013 NFL Playoffs Preview
Ravens at Broncos
(11-6) Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (13-3)
The Ravens are 4-4 on the road, while the Broncos are 7-1 at home.
This slide-show article is a preview of this game which is a rematch from week 15 where the Broncos won at Baltimore - 34-17. We will take a look together at the running game for each team, and their passing games. We will also take a look at the defenses. Let's get started with some stats...
This game has 11 Pro Bowl players.
For the season the Ravens turnover ratio was +9, while the Broncos were just -1. The Ravens had just 16 giveaways which is tied for second best in the entire NFL.
Over their last 11 regular season games the Ravens were decent at 6-5, while the Broncos were awesome at 11-0.
The Broncos average a whopping 33 points per game at Mile High Stadium, while the Ravens average a measly 18 points on the road (Baltimore averages 25 points per game overall, but they are much better at home).
Peyton Manning is 9-10 in the playoffs, including 3-4 in divisional weekend. His last playoff game was on January 8, 2010. The New York Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts 17-16 in that game. His last playoff victory was on January 24, 2009.
Last week was the first time all season where Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs all played for the Ravens.
John Harbaugh is an impressive 60-30 at the helm of the Ravens (including 6-4 in playoffs). John Fox is 100-88 overall (including 6-4 in the playoffs) and as the Broncos boss he is an impressive 22-12 (including 1-1 in the playoffs).
Page 2 - Texans passing game...Page 3 - Texans rushing attack...Page 4 - Patriots air attack...Page 5 - Patriots running game...Page 6 - Prediction + links to other playoff game previews.
Ravens Passing Game
In his career vs the Broncos Joe Flacco is 2-1, the loss coming this season in week 15 at home. He is 54 for 90 (625 yards) with four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and one interception vs them (that interception was a 98-yard pick-6 by Chris Harris in week 15...it was the last interception that Flacco has thrown).
In that week 15 game Flacco-to-Dennis Pitta was hot. Pitta was targeted 10 times, and seven of those were completed to the tune of 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns. These two did not have a big game in wild-card weekend, but the Broncos will surely be looking to game-plan for Pitta.
This season Flacco had just seven touchdowns and five interceptions on the road. His quarterback rating away from home was a poor 74.9.
If the Ravens throw on first down then Torrey Smith is the usual target. Anquan Boldin and Pitta are the third down guys. Boldin is the leading receiver for yards (921), while Pitta (7) and Smith (8) are the touchdown makers.
In last weeks win over the Indianapolis Colts we saw Boldin have a massive second half, but in his career he averages a measly 23 yards per game (career-worst) vs Denver. The Broncos can (and will) score a lot of points (especially at home) so the Ravens will need big production from their passing game.
Ray Rice is their yards after catch king. He is good at taking short passes out of the backfield and ripping up yards.
The Ravens have zero fumbles through their passing game.
#RML match-up is Michael Oher and Marshal Yanda vs Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The Broncos have a whopping 25 sacks at home, and vs the Ravens a few weeks ago they dropped Flacco three times.
Denver has just six interceptions at Mile High Stadium, but they did pick off Flacco + they forced a pair of fumbles (recovering one) vs the Ravens so they will feel that they can make game-changing plays on defense.
Ravens Ground Game
Ray Rice was averaging north of 100 rushing yards per game in his career vs the Broncos, but in week 15 he was held to just 38 yards on a dozen carries (3.2 yards per carry). On the season Rice averaged 4.6 yards per carry on the road, but just two of his nine touchdowns were away from home. Rice did get at least 90 yards from scrimmage in six of the seven road games he played this season.
The math for Baltimore seems easy enough. In their wins Rice averages 23 touches (rushes + receptions) and in losses that dives to just 15 touches.
An interesting development for the Ravens running attack has been the emergence of Bernard Pierce. This guy had 51 carries as the calendar turned to December, but since then he has 70 carries and a whopping 6.0 yards per carry average. Last week in their wild-card victory Pierce rang up 103 yards on just 13 carries.
The Broncos run defense is very good. They are ranked #3 overall vs the run, and #2 for yards allowed per carry (at a measly 3.6). The Broncos allowed just five rushing touchdowns this season which ties them with the Houston Texans for fewest allowed in the NFL.
The Ravens lost just one fumble through their running game, but this is not a Broncos defense that requires creating turnovers to be successful.
The Ravens will need their running attack to set the tone for this game and turn it into a physical battle as opposed to allowing the game to become Flacco vs Peyton Manning. This Broncos run defense is good enough to be up to the task.
Broncos Air Attack
Manning is 4-0 vs Flacco, and he is on a 9-0 run vs the Ravens (2-0 in playoffs). Manning is 3-4 in the divisional round. He was awesome (as usual) in 2012, especially at home where he tossed a whopping 22 touchdowns vs just three interceptions. He has a 112.3 quarterback rating at Mile High Stadium.
Manning was just 17 for 28 with one touchdown in their week 17 game at Baltimore, but for his career he has 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions vs them.
As expected Manning has made his wide receivers achieve new highs. Demaryius Thomas had 1,434 yards this season which is nearly double his career total coming into 2012. Thomas had an impressive 29 receptions that went for 20+ yards (second to only Calvin Johnson Jr.). He had six career touchdowns, but with Manning as his quarterback this season he took it to the house 10 times.
Eric Decker amassed 1,064 receiving yards which also almost doubled his career total entering the season. In his career he had nine touchdowns, and with Manning he racked up a bakers dozen in 2012.
Jacob Tamme had success with Manning in Indy. He has been good at home this season, and is a guy that can make plays on third down.
The Ravens are #17 overall vs the pass. The have 19 sacks on the road, and seven interceptions. They are healthier than they have been all season, but this Broncos air attack is awesome and will provide a massive test Dean Pees' defense.
Broncos Running Game
In their week 15 tilt the Ravens were without Ray Lewis. The Broncos took advantage and rushed the football 45 times which is the most ever for a Peyton Manning quarterbacked team. Overall they averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in that game, but Knowshon Moreno did go off for 115 yards on 21 carries (5.5 yards per carry) plus a touchdown. When Ronnie Hillman or Jacob Hester carried the rock vs Baltimore the results were poor.
Lewis is back, and he led the team with 13 tackles last week. His injury filled 2012 made it so that he barely played on the road. He had just 15 road tackles this season. We know that when the Ravens season is over so to is the Hall Of Fame career of Lewis.
Overall the Ravens rank just 20th vs the run, but they are impressive in allowing just 4.0 yards per carry (tied for 7th best in the NFL). This team forced, and recovered, a whopping seven fumbles on the road this season. The Broncos have lost three fumbles through their running game at home this season, but the butter fingers belonged to Lance Ball and Willis McGahee. Ball will get some action in this game, but Moreno will be the main guy in the Broncos backfield. McGahee is eligible to return from injured reserve next weekend.
As awesome as Manning and the passing game have been this season we see that the Broncos average 122 rushing yards and a touchdown in their wins.
Last Hurrah for Ray Lewis?
Same two teams as week 15, but this time they meet at Mile High Stadium in Denver. The week 15 final was 34-17 and despite this game being on a different field I will predict the exact same final score.
I love the fact that the Ravens defense is healthier than they have been this season, and Bernard Pierce is adding a new threat lately for Baltimore, but ultimately this will be Ray Lewis' final NFL game as Peyton + the Broncos excellent defense will be too much for the Ravens too overcome in this game.
A win this weekend for the Broncos would mean that they will host the AFC Championship game next Sunday. They would host the winner of the Houston Texans at New England Patriots game. The Broncos last two losses this season were vs those two teams (the Texans loss was their only loss all season at home). If the Ravens win then they will play at the winner of the Texans at Patriots game.
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