History doesn’t determine the outcome of a game, but it can reveal how a certain factor might impact a particular game. Take for example playing a team in the regular season and then again in the playoffs. Different games, situations and even a few different players, but the schemes and many of the players remain the same.
Teams that play twice get a chance to correct their issues from their first meeting in hopes that the game goes differently. Sometimes one or two big plays can make a difference in the final outcome and the game is completely changed if those mistakes are avoided.
Peyton Manning is considered one of the sharpest football minds, which also means he is extremely tough to play against. Beating Manning might be a bit like throwing darts in the dark. It’s possible to hit the bull’s-eye on your first try, but you’d get closer and closer with each attempt provided you could see what you did wrong the first time and there would still be no guarantee.
Would getting a second or third chance to beat Manning make a difference in the playoffs? It’s a question worth answering since the Broncos play the Ravens for the second time when the two teams square off on Saturday. What about the rest of the Broncos?
Manning’s record in the playoffs when a team has had a chance to play him a second time in the playoffs is 5-6, which closely mirrors his 9-10 career record in the playoffs. Not great, but not horrible. This record proves very little except that perhaps every game is a bit of a crapshoot in the playoffs. The margin of error is extremely small that even Manning has had issues.
The last time Manning faced a team for the second time in the playoffs was 2009 when the Colts beat the Ravens in Baltimore 17-15 in the regular season and then again in Indianapolis 20-3 in the second round of the playoffs. This was an interesting game because most of the key Ravens were on the team including Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.
The Ravens boasted the third-best defense in points and yards allowed in 2009 and Manning still beat them in the regular season on the road and at home in the playoffs. The good news here for the fans in Denver is that Manning can beat anyone, anytime, anywhere. Manning has been especially good against the Ravens.
What else does the history suggest? When Manning beats a team in the regular season, he is 2-3. Manning is 3-4 when he lost in the regular season and plays that team again in the playoffs. Again, nothing here that would suggest playing Manning a second or third time makes him any easier to beat.
As far as the rest of the team, there’s only been one year to judge and that was 2011. The Broncos got blown out by the Patriots at home on December 18, 2011 and then again in the second round of the playoffs in New England. The Broncos lost to the Patriots in 2012 by the score of 31-21 in New England and the two teams could meet again in the AFC Championship game.
There will be a lot of talk about Manning’s history against the Ravens and someone will undoubtedly talk about how playing Manning a second time makes him easier to beat, but that’s not reality. Manning gets to adjust too and that makes him and the Broncos just as dangerous in the playoffs as they were in the regular season. Even if the Broncos were to lose to the Ravens, it will not likely be because the team is facing Manning for a second time.