NFL Playoff Scenarios 2013: Would Baltimore Ravens Be Better off in Denver or NE

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJanuary 5, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 30:  Deonte Thompson #83 of the Baltimore Ravens juggles the ball during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens will kick off their 2013 postseason on Sunday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium.

While I'm sure that the attention of the entire roster and coaching staff is focused solely on beating the Colts right now, writers like myself have the luxury of looking ahead to the divisional round in case the Ravens pull out the win on Sunday.

By winning on Sunday, the Ravens would either go to Denver to square off with the Broncos or to New England to challenge the Patriots. Where they would go all depends on who wins Saturday's matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans.

Should the Texans win, Baltimore would head to Denver.

If Cincinnati were to come out on top, the Ravens would visit New England.

But which of those matchups is more desirable for the Baltimore Ravens?

The Ravens did play both of these teams during the regular season.

If you recall, the team managed to pull out the win against the Patriots back in September (Week 3) by a score of 31-30. That win came at home.

The Broncos came to town Week 15 and trounced Baltimore 34-17.

That alone should tell you that the Ravens would be better off playing the New England Patriots and should be cheering for the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday afternoon.

But the Ravens would also be better off in New England for a few other reasons.

The most important reason could be the fact that the offense isn't spectacular on the road and would be better off going up against a less stingy Patriots defense than trying to deal with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Baltimore's offensive line just isn't strong enough to hold up against Denver's formidable pass rush.

Keeping as much pressure off of Joe Flacco as possible is huge for this Ravens squad, and that task would be much easier against the Pats.

Secondly, there's the altitude issue.

It may not seem like a big deal, but when one team is accustomed to playing in the thin air and the other has not played there all year, it could certainly have an impact on the game.

Finally, there's the "pick your poison" issue of going up against an offense led by Peyton Manning or an offense led by Tom Brady.

This will surely be a subject of contentious debate, but I feel that Baltimore's defense, especially its secondary, will have a tough time stopping the pass game of Denver, which is much more balanced than that of New England.

Let me be clear: Both teams' offenses are going to be nightmares to try and contain, but at this point, Baltimore will probably have an easier time stopping New England than Denver.

No matter who the Ravens draw (assuming that they win their opener against Indianapolis on Sunday), it will not be an easy game.

Going on the road has been difficult for Baltimore all season (the team finished 4-4 away from home, with the wins coming against teams like Kansas City, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and San Diego, none of whom made the playoffs).

It's for that reason that Baltimore should be hoping for a Cincinnati win on Saturday, so it can maximize its chance of making it past the divisional round next week.