Ravens vs. Broncos: Baltimore X-Factors Who Must Go Off To Shock Denver

David DanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 23: Linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens walks the field before playing the New York Giants at M&T Bank Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Joe Flacco can’t be expected to carry the Baltimore Ravens over the Denver Broncos.

By carry, I mean outgun Peyton Manning. Flacco must play well, but he needs an enormous amount of help for the Ravens—who are 10-point underdogs, according to Bovada—to eliminate a team which many believe is the best in the NFL.

Here are the three greatest X-factors for Baltimore in its upset effort.


3. Torrey Smith

The Ravens offense won’t be able to march up and down the field against the Broncos defense. Ranked No. 3 in the league in rushing and passing yards allowed, it’s far too talented.

That’s why it’ll be up to Smith, Baltimore's best shot at a splash play, to create that splash play. The second-year wide receiver averaged an impressive 17.8 yards per catch this season. He caught a pass of at least 40 yards long in five different contests this season.

A deep ball or two to Smith would give the Ravens their best chance to keep up with Manning. Plus, with Champ Bailey likely covering and shutting down Anquan Boldin, Smith must become Flacco’s go-to guy downfield.


2. Cary Williams

When Lardarius Webb was healthy, Williams was picked on relentlessly. Webb’s season-ending injury, though, forced Williams to become Baltimore’s No. 1 cornerback and while he’s had his ups and downs, those ups are enough to believe he could help lead the Ravens to victory.

Denver has two stud receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Williams won’t be able to shut down either. But if he can get his hands on a few balls, Williams could swing momentum in Baltimore’s direction.

In the last three contests that have mattered for the Ravens, he’s broken up two passes in each. Williams also intercepted four passes in the regular season, tied for the team lead, and picked off the game-clinching pass against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round.


1. Terrell Suggs

How many times have we heard Peyton Manning get bounced from the playoffs and blame his offensive line in some way or another? Baltimore’s best shot at upsetting the Broncos is to make him want to point a finger in his hogs’ direction again.

Its stop unit has to be in his grill all day. Suggs is without a doubt the Ravens’ most-gifted pass-rusher. But in his nine starts this season, he’s only recorded two sacks and just one in his last eight appearances.

Paul Kruger is the only Baltimore linebacker with at least five sacks this season. He can’t do it all. T-Sizzle must bring the heat on the other side and at least put pressure on Manning. 


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.