- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
1. Manning owns Ravens: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has won nine straight games against the Ravens and is 9-2 overall versus Baltimore. The Broncos dominated the Ravens in Baltimore on Dec. 16 in a 34-17 win -- the franchise's first victory at M&T Bank Stadium. It was a shining example of Manning’s influence on the Broncos. In addition to Manning's ownage of the Ravens, Denver has an overall hot streak going, winning 11 straight.
2. The Ray Lewis factor: Lewis won’t exactly be the same X factor emotionally in this game as he was for Baltimore Sunday in its win over Indianapolis at home. The stadium was roaring for Lewis. It will still be an emotional game for his teammates as Lewis’ Hall of Fame career will end when the Ravens lose. Lewis played great against the Colts with 13 tackles. Lewis didn’t play against Denver last month, and Baltimore’s defense overall is much healthier now than it was then.
3. Control the game on the ground: The Broncos paced their win against the Ravens on the ground. Knowshon Moreno had 118 yards on 22 carries and the Broncos finished with 163 rushing yards. Manning relied on the ground game all day as he threw for just 204 yards. The Broncos want the same type of balance this time around.
4. Watch Flacco near the goal line: It will be interesting to see if Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws the ball when they get deep in the red zone. Last month, the game was all but sealed just before halftime when Denver cornerback Chris Harris read an out pass by Flacco and took it 98 yards for an interception return for a score. The touchdown gave Denver a 17-0 lead. After the game, Harris said he was shocked Flacco threw an out route. Harris said he and his teammates were thinking a fade route all the way. What will Flacco do this time around?
5. Will weather be a factor? The forecast calls for a cold day, with temperatures in the 20s and a 40 percent chance of snow. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. locally. The Ravens, like the Broncos, are used to playing in late-season games affected by the elements. Historically, Manning has not been great in cold-weather games. But the Broncos' final two games of the season, both at home, were played in cold conditions and Manning was terrific.