The Baltimore Ravens travel to Denver a week after defeating the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 in the Wildcard Round. Their next opponents are the AFC’s top-seeded Broncos, who have won their last 11 games by at least a touchdown.
The list of opponents that the Broncos have torn through of late, in fact, includes the Ravens, who more or less limped into the postseason. In week 15, the Broncos defeated the Ravens to the tune of 34-17.
Meanwhile, the Ravens lost four of their last five games entering the playoffs, with the win before that streak coming courtesy of the now infamous 4th and 29 play by Ray Rice against the San Diego Chargers.
While the Ravens seemed to have their way last week with Andrew Luck and the Colts, which Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco taking advantage of their weak secondary deep down the field, the Broncos have a much tougher defense.
While the Broncos will be minus cornerback Tracy Porter, Ravens receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith will still have to contend with Champ Bailey and Chris Harris. In addition, the Broncos have one of the fiercest pairs of edge rushers in the league with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have placed left guard Jah Reid on injured reserve, and tackles Michael Oher and rookie Kelechi Osemele will have their work cut out for them. In addition, their offense has played significantly worse on the road than at home this year.
Of course, the Broncos also have Peyton Manning at quarterback, who has had one of the best seasons of his career. He threw for over 4600 yards and 37 touchdowns, which is the second-highest total of his career. His 105.8 quarterback rating also trails only his record-setting 2004 season.
The Ravens came into this season boasting one of the most impressive defensive runs in league history. However, their effectiveness has diminished sharply this season. For starters, linebacker Terrell Suggs missed much of the season and was never fully healthy. Emotional leader Ray Lewis also missed most of the season.
More importantly, however, the secondary has been riddled with injury, which saw cornerbacker Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith out of action for the bulk of the year and limited All-Pro safety Ed Reed’s effectiveness.
While Manning may not have had his best game of the season against the Ravens a few weeks ago, look him to take advantage of Baltimore’s depleted defense, not just with his arm, but with his audibles, and to take his Denver Broncos past to Ravens to the AFC Conference Championship next week.
Like this article? Then please subscribe to this author’s articles about the NFL by clicking the subscribe button next to the author’s name or here to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new article is posted.