Reporting Jerry Coleman
The Ravens are getting ready for a pivotal A-F-C showdown against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who are winners of eight straight. As far as it goes for the Ravens, they have yet to clinch a playoff berth and will try to do so for a franchise best, fifth consecutive season.
The Ravens will have their hands full, to try and stop one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, Peyton Manning. Manning is 8-2 against the Ravens all-time, but perhaps they can gain one advantage. New Offensive Coordinator, Jim Caldwell is very familiar with Manning, he was his QB’s coach for six years. Caldwell does have extensive knowledge of Manning, so it could be important to have Caldwell on the field but Coach John Harbaugh hasn’t tipped his hand : “Well, there’s no comparison on that. There’s no value in making a comparison, but I am quite confident Jim knows the offense inside-out. He knows the terminology very well, and it just won’t be Jim. It will be all the coaches. Jim will be on the headsets with the other offensive coaches. Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler will be a big part of that, in terms of working the communication. We still haven’t decided how we are going to do it yet, whether Jim will be up and ‘Hoss’ Jim Hostler will call them to the field, or whether ‘Hoss’ will be up and Jim will call them to the field. So, we will work that out in the next couple of days and see how it goes.” It will be an intriguing game and this “showdown” might be a preview of a possible A-F-C title contest, but no time look ahead, they know that it these last few games a crucial.
Ray Rice has 993 total rushing yards this season and will be looking to go over 1,000 yard plateau against the Broncos. It will be tough to rush against them as they have the 6th ranked rushing defense. Rice just needs seven yards to go over 1,000 for a 4th straight season. When it comes to his “touches”, Rice can’t get the ball every play and he contributes a ton to the offense, and he’s fine with the amount of carries as long as the team takes care of business: .“The expectation is to win around here. We’ve been to the playoffs. We’ve been to The Dance. Getting to “The Dance” is sometimes not enough around here anymore. We like to keep dancing dance all the way to the Super Bowl. That’s the challenge. That’s a very hard challenge. With that being said, we do have Denver this week, who is playing tremendous football. I looked at them on tape not even looking at Peyton Manning. My job is to look at their defense; they don’t make a lot of mistakes. They play sound football tough front. We have our hands full this week.”
The Ravens will have to face the Manning brothers in back-to-back weeks, both are at home. There will be challenges with each , but the focus is currently on Peyton , as Ravens safety Ed Reed said “Peyton throws to everybody, man. He’s still Peyton Manning. That’s the reason why they’ve won, what, the last eight games or something like that? He’s still Peyton. Peyton still throws the ball well, he still gets the ball to his playmakers, and he gets the ball to everybody, like I said. So, every man has to be on point on what he’s doing this week.” That’s what makes him so dangerous, players have to prepare extra, and be aware of who Manning is targeting. He has also thrown a single-season franchise record 30 touchdowns for Denver this year.
Quarter back Joe Flacco who had a great first half last week in Washington, will be guiding the offense with a new coach at the helm, offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell. Flacco has turned the page on Cam Cameron, and regarding Caldwell: “He’s had to gather himself and get ready to make this change pretty quickly. The biggest thing that we’ve talked about is just coming together as an offense and everybody helping, and giving their input, because we’re going to need it. It’s a quick change, it’s late in the year, and it’s going to require all of us to be focused and work hard and come into this thing and work together.” Flacco certainly needs to complete more than 16 passes this week, because with a team that has Manning, points will be posted. It’s time to see how the team responds to Cameron’s dismissal with Caldwell taking over.
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