The big story for the Ravens is linebacker Ray Lewis. Everyone knows that this will be Lewis’ final season in the league. Baltimore is not only playing to win the Super Bowl, but also for Lewis to finish his Hall of Fame career in style. As much as this can motivate the entire Ravens team, I feel that they will need much more than that in order to escape the Mile High City with a victory.
The Broncos have been the hottest team in the entire league since Week 6 of the regular season, and are coming into the divisional round on an 11-game winning streak. The production on both sides of the ball for Denver has played a major part in their success.
One of the Broncos’ victories during their winning streak was a 34-17 win against the Ravens, which was in Week 15.
Potential league MVP Peyton Manning has taken the Broncos’ offense to another level this season with his 4,659 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes, and 105.8 quarterback rating.
Defensively, Denver has arguably been the best this season. The Broncos had the second-best overall defense (290.8 yards per game) of the regular season, and were ranked third in both pass (199.6 ypg) and run (91.1 ypg) defense.
With defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Von Miller combining for 29.5 of Denver’s 52 sacks, the Ravens’ offensive line will have a difficult challenge in protecting quarterback Joe Flacco. In addition, the Broncos’ run defense will make it almost impossible for Ravens running back Ray Rice to move the chains on the ground and keep the ball out of Manning’s hands.
Personally, I would love to see Lewis ride off into the sunset with one more championship ring in hand, but I think that the Broncos will be just too much for the Ravens to handle. Denver’s entire defense will definitely be the standout in this game. Even if the Broncos’ defense somehow doesn’t play a major factor, the high altitude will.
Baltimore might be the sentimental favorite, but it will take more than sympathy to win this game.
Prediction: Broncos 31, Ravens 17
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