Posted Fri Jan 4th by Ian Henson
Streak: Lost 1
All-time vs. Denver: 6-3 (1-0 playoffs)
Last time: Broncos, 34-17, Dec. 2012
The Line: N/A. Wild Card: Baltimore (home) is favored by 6.5 over Indianapolis
This week we’re taking a first look at the three teams that could come to Denver to face the Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs on January 12th — the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens. Finally: Baltimore.
If last season’s Denver Broncos were accused of back peddling into the playoffs; Baltimore did a ill advised back-flip off a jagged rock cliff, over shot and smacked their face all the way down. The Ravens won one game out of the five they played in December, many analysts and armchairs alike had the Week 15 Denver vs. Baltimore game as a true test of both teams level of play. The Broncos came to Baltimore and smoked the Ravens, though the box score was effected by a garbage time touchdown to Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta, much to the disappointment of Champ Bailey. It should be noted that amongst common opponents the Ravens went 2-1 (including a win against the New England Patriots), while the Colts went 3-2 (including a win against the Houston Texans).
Who’s hot: Ravens offense. The Ravens offense — ranked tenth overall in points, 11th in rush yards and 15th in pass yards — averaged 24.9 points per game this season. Quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 3,817 yards completing 59.7% with a 22:10 touchdown to interception ratio and a quarterback rating of 87.7. Ray Rice, who traditionally gets hot in the playoffs finished the season with 1,143 yards averaging 4.4 yards per carry and nine touchdowns.
Who’s not: Baltimore’s defense, Terrell Suggs missed Week 17 with a biceps injury, Ray Lewis (who announced that he will retire after the season on Wednesday) will return to play and safety Bernard Pollard, who missed the last three weeks of the season with a rib injury should all be available for the playoffs.
A very different defense than Denver faced in Week 15, should be at full strength if Baltimore comes to town.
Matchup to Watch (should the Ravens advance): Baltimore’s defense vs. Denver’s offense, the Raven’s defense at full strength is what allowed them to belly flop off the high dive into the playoffs and still finish number one in the AFC North. Lewis may be viewed as an inspirational pump to the Baltimore defense, but he never stopped giving the pregame speeches despite being injured. Having all their starters will allow for fresh legs to come in and relieve tired bones, it will mean no corner cutting for Raven’s defensive coordinator Dean Pees who as New England’s defensive coordinator handed Peyton Manning a loss more than a few times, though never in the playoffs.
Heck, other than Tom Brady, Pees may be the real ‘Manning Killer’.
How they come to Denver: A Baltimore win and a Houston win. The Ravens are the fourth seed, the second highest seed in the AFC Wild Card, and since the first seed Broncos will face the lowest winning seed following Wild Card weekend, a Ravens victory coupled with a Texans win sends Baltimore to Denver and Houston to New England.
How do you see the Broncos faring should the Ravens come to town? Let us know your thoughts on Baltimore in the comments.