Ravens vs. Broncos: Individual Matchups That Will Decide Division-Round Battle

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens gets off a pass while tackle Michael Oher #74 blocks defensive end Elvis Dumervil #92 of the Denver Broncos during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

A battle between Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against the veteran Baltimore Ravens is as much as anyone could ask for in the second round of the NFL playoffs.

When you get to this level of the postseason, everyone has talent. The game will come down to which players can take care of business individually.

Everyone will need to do their job in order to win, but these matchups will go a long way towards deciding this highly anticipated showdown.


WR Anquan Boldin vs. CB Champ Bailey

These are two players that are getting up there in age, but you would never notice based on recent play.

Anquan Boldin was a big reason why the Ravens were able to top the Indianapolis Colts in the first round. He finished with five receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown and was targeted deep throughout the game.

Boldin started the year slowly, but came on strong late and finished as the team's leader in catches and receiving yards.

Unfortunately for him, Champ Bailey has been once again playing at a Pro Bowl level this season and has a knack for shutting down opposing receivers throughout his career. 

When the two teams met during the regular season, Boldin was held without a catch on six targets. If he cannot improve upon that, the Ravens offense will be in trouble.


OT Kelechi Osemele vs. OLB Von Miller

There are times where Kelechi Osemele looks like a dominant offensive tackle, and there are others where he really struggles. The problem is that Von Miller can make anyone struggle.

The Broncos linebacker finished third in the league with 18.5 sacks this season, and he can make plays all over the field.

While he was held in check the last time he faced Baltimore, it will not be easy to do it again.

Miller can completely derail an offensive game plan if he is given the opportunity. Osemele and the rest of the line will be key in preventing the second-year player from getting that chance. 


LB Ray Lewis vs. RB Knowshon Moreno

It seems Ray Lewis is actually healthy after missing almost three months with a triceps injury. He totaled 13 tackles against the Colts and only dropped one interception.

In reality, he is one of the best to ever play the game and still has the energy to bring his best every week.

However, Knowshon Moreno has played very well lately and can cause some problems for the Ravens defense as a whole. Since getting regular playing time in Week 12, the former first-round pick has averaged 111 yards from scrimmage per game.

Moreno's breakout play has created a great deal of balance for the Broncos offense and it forces opponents to stay alert on every play.

Lewis has to make sure he wraps up against the talented running back and helps stuff the run game altogether.


S Ed Reed vs. QB Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning surprised almost everyone with his play this season. After missing all of 2011 with a neck injury, the quarterback threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and had the No. 1 Total QBR of anyone in the league.

He can methodically break down even the best defenses in the NFL and utilize all of his weapons to score points.

While Baltimore has struggled against the pass this year, Ed Reed is someone that can make a difference in this game. The safety is one of the best playmakers of his generation and is always around the ball.

If the Ravens have a chance at stopping, or even slowing down Manning, Reed will need to make some big plays on the ball and try to force turnovers.

Reed was able to get an interception the last time he faced Manning in the playoffs after the 2009 season. He has as good of a chance as anyone of doing it again in this important battle on Saturday.


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