Divisional Round Match-Up: Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos
AT: Mile High Stadium, 4:30 Est. – Saturday -January 12 – 2013
While the Ravens enjoyed an emotional home field advantage (celebrating Ray Lewis final game in Baltimore) to beat Indy last Sunday, it gets tougher this weekend. They go on the road to face QB Peyton Manning, who is 9-2 against Baltimore. Besides Manning’s success and skills, this match-up favors Denver. Denver has had an extra week off, they have a solid rushing attack and a stout defense who get after opposing quarterbacks.
In week 15 the Ravens were embarrassed at home losing to Denver. The Ravens started out strong, but a mistake filled game hurt the team. This match-up the Ravens can’t commit turnovers, and in fact, will have to try to win the turnover battle to gain an advantage.
CHALK IT UP/KEY MATCH-UP’S
RAY RICE/BERNARD PIERCE VS. BRONCO’S RUN D:
It is going to be important for the Ravens to establish the run. During the regular season the Broncos finished 3rd in rushing yards allowed (91.1 yds.). Since taking over for Cam Cameron, off. coordinator Jim Caldwell has put an emphasis on establishing the run game. In week 15 vs. Denver Rice had 12 carries and and Pierce had 5. Obviously the Ravens were fighting from behind, but rest assured the Ravens will rely on the run game to set the tempo.
JOE FLACCO/O-LINE VS. BRONCO’S D:
The Ravens would be smart to keep their offensive line shuffle in place. LT McKinnie at left tackle and Oher at right tackle were effective versus Indy’s pass rush. This game the challenge is greater with OLB Von Miller (18 sacks). As a defense Denver had 52 sacks in the regular season.
QB Flacco had a good game last week, however, there were throws he tried to force. Against CB Champ Bailey and company, there will be no margin for error. Denver has 16 int’s on the season. I liked the fact Flacco took some shots deep and it will be important to continue to challenge Denver’s secondary this week.
RAVENS PASS RUSH VS. BRONCO’S O-LINE:
Last week the Ravens got after rookie Andrew Luck, mixing up the blitz packages and showing multiple looks. This game is all about how the Ravens corners and Ed Reed cover Denver’s receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Brandon Stokley, and TE Jacob Tamme). In week 15 the Ravens did get to Manning early, they compiled 2 sacks for the game. This match-up they just can’t afford Manning to sit back and pick apart the Ravens secondary. OLB Paul Kruger vs. Right tackle Orlando Franklin. Kruger had a monster game last Sunday, 2.5 sacks and forced fumble. The other match-up is Haloti Ngata vs. Center Dan Koppen. Ngata will be key with pressure up the middle.
RAVENS RUN D VS. BRONCOS RUN GAME (Knowshon Moreno)
In week 15 the Ravens allowed 115 yards to running back Moreno. If you look back to why the Ravens struggled against the run this season is that they have over pursued and backs have been able to get outside for big gains. The Ravens just can’t commit costly mis-assignments or lose gap integrity. MLB Ray Lewis should be a plus in diagnosing run plays to help the defense.