On Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens, fresh off an emotional victory against the Colts, will take on a hot Denver Broncos team in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. The Broncos haven't lost a game since early October, winning 11 straight in the process, but none of that matters now.
So, who's going to get the win in this divisional round matchup?
The Baltimore Ravens have traditionally been known as a great defensive team. On Sunday, they did in fact put forth an excellent effort, holding the Colts to only nine points. They'll need to play at their absolute best on Saturday if they want any chance of moving on to the AFC Championship Game.
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are going to need to rally the troops to play inspired football, because they're going up against the fifth-best passing offense in the NFL, as well as a solid running game (per ESPN).
The Ravens defense cannot afford to let Peyton Manning get into a groove early on, or it's going to be a long day for Ravens fans.
And on the offensive side of the ball, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have to bring their "A" games and sustain long drives to control the clock and keep Manning off the field for as long as possible.
The key to this game is going to be the Denver defense. They're a top-five overall defense, and have been playing lights-out for the past month. Von Miller finished the season on a very positive note, quietly collecting 18.5 sacks (per ESPN). He'll be huge in the effort to corral Ray Rice.
Champ Bailey's still at the top of his game and will look to lock down Torrey Smith and take away any downfield passing games the Ravens have.
At the end of the day, it looks like Denver's offense is going to just be too good, and the defense will play well enough to hold the Ravens in check. Baltimore's just not explosive enough to hang with a team that can score like Denver can.
Expect Peyton Manning to control the ball and the clock the majority of the game and to put up a lot of points, to the point where the Ravens can't keep up.
During Denver's 11-game win streak, they've scored 30-plus points nine times. That should continue this weekend.
Final Score: Denver wins 31-24.
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