Saturday, January 12, 2013
Poll results: Ravens or Broncos
By Jamison Hensley
Few are giving the Ravens a chance of upsetting the Broncos in today's AFC divisional playoff game, and that includes most of the readers on ESPN.com. Of the 278,112 votes in this week's SportsNation poll, 79 percent picked the Broncos to win.
Here are the x-factors for the game, which come from the AFC North mailbag:
Mason from San Diego: Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno. The Ravens always do a decent job of keeping Peyton Manning in check. So the Broncos run game, led by Moreno, could very well be the deciding factor.
Ryan from Boston: Ravens offensive line. The late-season shuffle seemed to work really well for them last week. I think Bryant McKinnie being given an oppurtunity to redeem himself, and putting Michael Oher back where he feels most comfortable really worked out well. If they can open up some gaps for the running game and give Flacco some time to throw, then maybe the Ravens have a shot.
Heather from Carlisle, Pa.: Peyton Manning. Manning won't make the same mistakes as rookie Andrew Luck did. Denver won't have to settle for field goals like Indianapolis did. Peyton will do what he normally does against the Ravens and will get Denver into the end zone and also into the AFC Championship game.
Wally from Baltimore: The weather. Forecast is for game-time temperature to be in the teens. The ball will be slick, quarterbacks will be off and the receivers hands will sting. The team that runs better will win.
Victor from Toms River, N.J.: Time of possession. The Ravens have to be able to manage the clock wisely and wear down the Broncos defense. This also means that Manning and their offense will be on the bench. The Ravens defense will be able to stay fresh, which will be huge in the fourth quarter especially since the game is in Denver.
Ken from Denver: Von Miller and the Denver pass rush. Look for Joe Flacco to turn the ball over a couple of times via fumble or interception. Once there is blood in the water with a lead of seven points or more, Denver's defensive line will tear him up.
Andrew from Baltimore: The Ravens' front seven. Last time they played the Broncos, the Ravens were missing Dannell Ellerbe, Pernell McPhee, and Ray Lewis. The Ravens were also unable to stop the run and put much pressure on Peyton Manning. But if Paul Kruger plays like he did last week, we should see a much different game this Saturday.
Bert from Louisville: Joe Flacco. If Joe can play well, like last year's AFC championship game, I think the Ravens can win. The Ravens will have to put a lot of points on the board because you know Peyton will.
Maddy from Denver: The speed of the broncos defense. In the Peyton era, it's easy to forget about the impact of a strong defense. You can bet Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will not let Flacco forget about their influence this weekend.
Tom from Baltimore: Ravens offensive line. The first time these two teams met, the Ravens were without Marshal Yanda, and featured a completely different alignment up front when compared to their starting line against the Colts. Running right, behind Yanda and Michael Oher, will prove to be the difference.