By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will match up against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Here’s the scouting report:
Denver Broncos record: (10-3-0) 2012 AFC West Champions
When speaking of the Denver offense, the conversation begins and ends with Peyton Manning. One of the most prolific quarterbacks of all time comes into M&T Bank Stadium with playoff implications at a premium. The Broncos head into this game having already secured a division title. They now hope to secure a first round bye, and Peyton Manning is the key. Look for Manning to attack the Ravens corners early and often in this match-up. The secondary has given up big plays to both Charlie Batch and RG3. Not to mention 4th quarter heroics from Cousins last week against Washington. If Baltimore is to have any chance in this game, they’ll need to contain Manning throughout the contest.
If Manning is somehow contained, they’ll be placed in a tough situation. With Willis McGahee placed on IR, they have to rely on Knowshon Moreno for run support. He isn’t as dynamic as is predecessor and lacks the burst of a big time running back. Things will be much worst for Denver if Ray Lewis returns to action. Though he’s a liability in pass coverage at this stage in his career, he’s still one of the best rush defenders in the game. Coupled with his uncanny ability to read offenses and this may be another Manning/Lewis chess match that many have come to expect.
The news this week has centered on the firing of Cam Cameron. Jim Caldwell will assume the play-calling duties for the first time in his career. His first test will come against a Broncos defense that makes a living out of getting after the quarterback. Look for the Ravens to combat this heavy pass rushing unit with a no-huddle offensive attack. Baltimore has gotten away from that the past few weeks and it has hurt the team. Introducing the style of play couldn’t come at a better time. The Ravens have struggled against pass rushers. To be more specific, Michael Oher has given up 2 sacks that have led to costly turnovers. Against Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, Baltimore will need to do a much better job of protecting their quarterback.
The Ravens will look to be a more high octane offense, but that may come back to haunt them. Baltimore may be better served controlling the clock and keeping Manning off the field. If the defense struggles, a change in philosophy mid-game may be in order.
John Fox has done a great job in Denver since becoming the head coach. He came into the Broncos organization with an unorthodox style of QB in Tim Tebow. He made it work and secured Denver a playoff berth. That season included a stunning victory of Pittsburgh in the wild-card round of the playoffs last season. This season, he has a more prolific passer in Peyton Manning. The Ravens are 5-3 All-Time against the Broncos. But they’ve defeated Peyton Manning only once throughout the history of the franchise.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.