By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will match up against the Denver Broncos on Saturday. Here is the scouting report:
Denver Broncos: (13-3-0) AFC West Champions & AFC #1 Seed
The offense that trots on the field in Denver on Saturday will feature one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Peyton Manning will try to lead his team to the AFC Championship game against a team he beat handedly nearly a month ago. Manning has gone on record as saying that Baltimore is the toughest opponent he has ever played. Because of this, Manning will study extra hard for this match up. The chess match between Manning and Ray Lewis has become one of the more entertaining spectacles in the NFL. In their last meeting, Manning didn’t have to do much; he relied heavily on the running game to keep Baltimore on their heels. He took advantage of a defense that was without Ray Lewis and a plethora of other defenders.
The defense had a bend, but don’t break philosophy against the Colts. They’ll need to hope for similar success against an offense that can put up points in bunches. Look for Manning to test the run defense early. If Baltimore can shut that part of their offense down early, it will keep Manning from using too many play action pass attempts. Similar to Flacco, Manning is most deadly when using an effective play action pass attack.
The Ravens will rely heavily on their defense on Saturday. They don’t want to get forced into a shootout against the Broncos in Denver. If it goes that way, they could be in trouble. That’s because Denver fields one of the better defenses in the NFL. Von Miller and Elvis Dumerville get after the passer better than anyone in the league. If the Ravens get Flacco passing too many times, it could get ugly in Denver. The key for Baltimore will be to run the football early and effectively. The Ravens have been very impressed with Bernard Pierce this season. Getting him the ball early on could help soften up that defense and help Flacco with the play action game.
The offensive line will hope to duplicate their performance against Mathis and Freeney when they played the Colts. The Ravens finally seem to have the best offensive lineman on the field and it couldn’t come at a better time. If Flacco can stay upright, he can move the football effectively. Flacco will also look to keep the turnovers to a minimum. The pick-6 that sealed the game for Denver in the end of the first half is still in the minds of many Ravens fans.
John Fox leads the Broncos to the divisional round of the postseason for the second straight season. The Ravens have had success against the Broncos with an all-time record of 5-4. The Ravens have a 1-0 record against Denver in the postseason. But Baltimore has never defeated Peyton Manning as they hold a 0-2 record against him.
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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.