- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five nuggets of knowledge about the Baltimore Ravens-Denver Broncos AFC divisional-round game, which will be played at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Denver's Sports Authority Field:
Justify his glove: A quarterback wearing a glove is a fairly common occurrence. But when a quarterback the caliber of Peyton Manning starts to wear a glove, it’s noticeable. When it happens after Manning missed an entire season because of a neck injury that required four surgeries, it is going to be newsworthy. This week, Manning admitted he is wearing the glove as a result of his surgery. He wore the glove in the past two games -- both at home -- because he has had difficulty gripping the ball in the cold. Snow is a possibility Saturday, and temperatures may dip below 20 degrees at game time. Expect to see the glove make its third appearance. If the first two games are any indication, Denver shouldn’t be worried about the fit: Manning has thrown for 643 yards, six touchdowns and one interception while wearing the glove.
Is Rice suddenly a fumbler? There is a curious trend developing for Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Once the postseason begins, the normally ball-secure Rice becomes vulnerable to fumbling. Rice has seven fumbles in 1,527 touches in his regular-season career. But after fumbling twice Sunday against the Colts, Rice has fumbled five times in 152 touches in the playoffs. Nothing can unravel an upset bid on the road in the playoffs like a key fumble. It will be something Rice and the entire Denver crowd will be thinking about Saturday.
Pees has playoff experience against Manning: Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees was an assistant coach in New England from 2004-09 and faced Manning in the postseason twice, winning once and losing once. This week on ESPN’s “NFL Live,” another former Bill Belichick defensive assistant, Eric Mangini, said Pees’ time planning for Manning with Belichick's playoff staffs could come in handy. Mangini said there were times when Belichick changed an entire defensive scheme against Manning at halftime to get an edge. Thus, Mangini said, Pees is adept at doing what it takes to try to stop Manning in the playoffs.
Will the Ravens be worn down? Denver will try to strike quickly and set the tone. Expect to see some fast-paced, no-huddle offense against what could be a fatigued Ravens defense. Baltimore had a short week after beating the Colts on Sunday -- after which the Ravens had to travel west into the thin air of Denver. The Colts ran 87 offensive plays and kept the ball for 37 minutes, 32 seconds Sunday. All of these factors could come into play Saturday.
Will Caldwell give different looks? When Denver beat the Ravens 34-17 in Baltimore in Week 15, it was the Ravens’ first game with Jim Caldwell as their offensive coordinator. Manning’s former head coach in Indianapolis was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator after the firing of Cam Cameron. Caldwell’s offense was anemic against Denver, which took a 31-3 lead into the fourth quarter. The unit has made some strides in the three games since, meaning that Denver should expect to see an improved Baltimore offense.