Peyton Manning and the cold don't mix.
Manning, who grew up in Louisiana, played his college ball in Tennessee and his first 13 professional seasons inside a dome in Indianapolis, doesn't like the cold weather.
It makes the ball shrink in size – even if only gradually – while freezing extremities, which makes the pigskin sting unshielded hands and hard hits hurt that much more.
For Manning, playing in games of under 40 degrees has been the bane of his existence, as he's gone 0-3 in the playoffs in cold games.
It must be noted here that each of those games came on the road, in 2003 in New York, and 2004-05 in New England; he's never played a home game in the cold. It should also be evident that Manning's grown a bit since he last played in a cold playoff game, some seven years ago.
Still, it's enough to make Broncos fans worry a bit.
That's because when the game kicks off Saturday afternoon – 2:30 p.m. MT – the weather forecast calls for 19 degrees at kickoff with it dipping down to 15 in the possibly crucial fourth quarter.
To combat the cold, Manning's been wearing a glove for the Broncos' last two games, with kickoff temperatures of 51 and 35 degrees respectively. With that glove on, he's enjoyed some of his best performances. Manning went 53-72 (73.6 percent) for 643 yards, six touchdowns and one interceptions the last two games combined and his Broncos won a combined 72-15 to finish the season.
Baltimore brings a physical team – both on offense and defense – and if Denver is forced to not only shut down Ray Rice and the Ravens' run game, but get their ground game going with Knowshon Moreno, it could be bad news for Broncos fans.
If Manning's on top of his game – playing at an MVP level as he has all season long – the Broncos could come out and jump out to an early lead to cruise to victory, just as they did in Week 15 when the two teams met in Baltimore.
The more physical team will almost certainly win Saturday and earn the chance to represent their conference in the AFC Championship game next Sunday.
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Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on facebook or twitter for all your Denver Broncos news and opinion.