While some of us are still celebrating the Baltimore Ravens win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild-Card game, others are looking ahead and preparing for the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
While the win over the Colts was nice, the Ravens are about to face a tough task in Denver. It was only a month ago that the Ravens lost 34-17 to the Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.
During their first meeting with the Broncos, the Ravens were missing five starters from their lineup, three on defense; linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe, safety Bernard Pollard and two on offense; right guard Marshall Yanda and tight end Ed Dickson.
“We’re more full-strength now than we’ve ever been all year, so it’s the right time to be healthy,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m hoping those guys will have a big impact.”
And yes, the Ravens are considered the underdog and acknowledge it will be a tough battle at Mile High Stadium, but at least one person believes the Ravens will keep it a close game.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal believes the Ravens will hang in the game because:
- Offensive line is improved
- Team regrouped and recovered
- Defense is more dangerous: players are back and defensive coordinator Dean Pees “turned up the heat”
- Quarterback Joe Flacco is “hitting big plays again; he is playoff tested and capable of hanging against anyone.”
While the Broncos are a very good team, there are no guarantees in football. The Ravens will stand a chance in this game, but it all depends on which team shows up and if the “good” Flacco hits the field. There is no denying that Flacco has been inconsistent all season, but he has proven himself in tough situations and in consecutive playoff seasons.
The offense needs to run the ball and run it a lot; make the most of running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Flacco needs to be accurate and avoid making mistakes.
The defense needs to step up their pass coverage to slow Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. Luckily the Ravens’ defense is still healthy and their lineup will include players who missed the first match up. They need to utilize every weapon they’ve got.
I admit I’m very nervous about this game, but I also feel more confident about the Ravens compared to their last meeting with the Broncos. There is no doubt that Manning is an elite quarterback, but with a healthy Ravens defense back on the field, I feel better about their ability to contain him.
And Flacco…well he’s been to the playoffs for five consecutive years so I am holding out hope that the “good” one shows up and shines under pressure. He’s done it before, please let him do it again.
It is hard to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, that’s exactly what I am doing. While it would be awesome to come home with a win, I know that Mile High Stadium is a very tough place to play and when you throw in one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, well it makes for a difficult day.
Come on Ravens, show us what you’ve got and play to win!