The Denver Broncos open their post-season with a contest against the Baltimore Ravens at home. There’s a lot of pressure on Peyton Manning on the Broncos. Not only are they favorites to reach the Super Bowl, the Broncos are also tasked with ensuring we never see Ray Lewis dance again. Don’t let us down. For the love of humanity don’t let us down.

Outside of Running Backs and Special Teams, the Ravens are outmatched. Peyton Manning is not a rookie QB making his first post-season start. Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta dominated a terrible Colts secondary last week. The Broncos secondary is a different story — they rank third in the league, allowing just 199.6 yards per game through the air. In their meeting on December 16th the Broncos trounced Baltimore 34-17. This isn’t going to end well.

Broncos Offense Ravens Defense
Total Yards P/Game  398 (3rd)  351 (17th)
Passing Yards P/Game  283 (5th)  228 (17th)
Rushing Yards P/Game  115 (16th)  123 (20th)
Ravens Offense Broncos Defense
Total Yards P/Game  353 (16th)  291 (2nd)
Passing Yards P/Game  234 (15th)  200 (3rd)
Rushing Yards P/Game  119 (11th)  91 (3rd)

 Thoughts on the game:

  • Denver is dominant at home. During their six game home winning streak they’ve allowed 237.3 yards and 13.5 points per game. In their meeting during the regular season, the Broncos held Baltimore to 278 total yards — a number that was inflated thanks to two garbage time touchdowns. The Ravens went 1-12 on third downs and gained only two first downs on the ground. Domination.
  • The Ravens made Andrew Luck’s playoff debut a forgettable one. They held Luck to a 36% completion percentage when they rushed more than four defenders. On December 16th the Broncos sacked Joe Flacco three times for a loss of 32 yards. Flacco’s QB rating was 76.5. If you’re into QBR , he scored a paltry 0.4.
  • Via ESPN Stats & Information, Flacco was 2-6 when the Broncos rushed more than four in that game–this included a game killing pick six to Chris Harris just before halftime. The Broncos defense made life hell for opposing offenses in the fourth quarter, holding QBs to a 1.5 total QBR.
  • The Ravens scored 398 total points this year, good for an average of 24.9 per game which ranked 10th in the NFL. Their points differential was 54, placing them 11th in the league. With a plus nine, the Ravens ranked eighth in the takeaway/giveaway department.
  • Knowshon Moreno did more than just hurdle Ed Reed in their week 15 match up, rushing for 115 yards on 21 carries. His 5.5 per carry average opened up the play action pass. Manning completed averaged 12.1 yards per attempt on play action passes against the Ravens. Look for Moreno to get a lot of action early in order to set this up on Saturday.
  • If Peyton Manning wasn’t the guy he appears to be this quote would be all sorts of awesome: “I think Ray Lewis knows how I feel about him and I think I’ll share that with him at the appropriate time.” “Hey Ray, I hate you.” In a perfect world.
  • The Ravens running game will need to be great. Bernard Pierce ran for 103 yards against the Colts, outshining Ray rice, who fumbled twice. Look for the pair to split carries behind hulking fullback Vonta Leach. The platitudes regarding keeping Peyton Manning off the field have been hammered to death, but the point remains apt.
  • The Broncos put up a ton of points this year, averaging 30.1 per game. Their defense was just as good, allowing 18.1. They do, however, have some injury concerns heading into Saturday. Ryan Clady (undisclosed) and Tracy Porter (concussion) are questionable. Keep an eye on their status as game time approaches.

It’s hard to see Baltimore emerging victorious at Mile High. The Broncos have them beat on both sides of the ball and beat the hell out of them in Baltimore. Pick Denver with confidence.