Ray Lewis vs. Peyton Manning: One Legend Expected to End Career of Another

By Andrew Fisher
Chris Humphreys-Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, one of the more intriguing matchups will be the Baltimore Ravens against the Denver Broncos.

The Ravens head to Denver in a rematch from week 15 in which they lost 34-17 in a game that was never really close. This time around the Broncos are 9.5-point favorites on their home turf.

The major storyline to follow will of course will be Ray Lewis and his final playoff run. The legendary linebacker returned last week to lead his team in tackles (13), and helped the defense to only allow nine points against the Indianapolis Colts.

Well this week might be a different story. In fact there’s not a scenario I can envision in which Peyton Manning only leads his offense to nine points. Manning is going to get his as always, it’s just a matter of how many points he will get, but it certainly will be more than nine.

It seems as if people are just writing off the Ravens. I get that they were beaten badly just a few weeks ago by the same team at home, but it’s the playoffs. Things are different in the postseason. This Ravens team led by Lewis is not going to roll over.

All that being said, it’s still a game the Broncos should win. They’re the No.1 seed, playing at home, with arguably the MVP of the league at quarterback. Denver is accurately favored to take care of business, but I’m giving the Ravens a puncher’s chance.

If you give an edge to Baltimore in any area of this game, it would definitely be momentum. There’s a lot to be said for the momentum gained from wild card games. We’ve seen it over and over in recent years when a team that limps into the playoffs suddenly catches fire and uses the momentum from the first round to knock off a favored team in the divisional round.

On the other side, the Broncos will not have played in almost two weeks and their momentum from an 11-game winning streak could be slowed by the time off.

The Ravens are more than capable of beating the Broncos if they’re on their A-game. The inspiration and leadership that Lewis brings to the table will make a difference in this game. Baltimore is no doubt a different squad with him on the field, and while he alone can’t make up the difference from the last contest, they will definitely be a better team.

Fans will be treated to two legends in this game, and possibly the last game ever for one of those legends. I think the better story is Lewis winning and moving on with a chance to return to the Super Bowl one last time. As great as the Manning recovery story is, he’ll be back with a couple more chances at glory. For Ray Lewis it’s all on the table Saturday, but that might be the edge the Ravens use to help execute a big upset.

Follow Andrew Fisher on Twitter @the_realfish

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