NFL Nation: 2013 Ravens-Broncos Quick Take

Quick Take: Ravens at Broncos

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
10:42
PM ET
Five things to know about next Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens-Denver Broncos playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High:

1. Can Ravens end Manning's mastery? Baltimore hasn't beaten Peyton Manning since 2001, when the Ravens were defending Super Bowl champions and Ray Lewis was the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Ravens have lost nine straight times to Manning, including twice in the playoffs. It was only three weeks ago when the Ravens kept Manning in check (204 yards and one touchdown) and still lost. In their last postseason game against Manning, the Ravens allowed him to complete 68 percent of his passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

2. The hot hand: Anquan Boldin has stepped up in his past two games, catching 12 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown. He had 145 yards receiving Sunday, a Ravens' playoff record, and he did it all in the second half. This hot streak came after the Broncos held him without a catch last month. Boldin averaged five catches in Ravens' wins in the regular season and 2.6 receptions in losses. He also has three touchdowns in five playoff games with the Ravens.

3. Road tested: The Broncos are 13-3 in home playoff games, but the Ravens are battle tested when it comes to playing on the road in the playoffs. The Ravens' 7-5 postseason road record is the second-best since the 1970 merger. Since 2008, when John Harbaugh became coach, Baltimore's four road wins in the playoffs are tied for the most in the league with the Jets. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have won at Miami, Tennessee, New England and Kansas City in the postseason.

4. Stingy in the postseason: The Ravens have been a bend-don't-break defense all season long and they held the Colts to three field goals Sunday. While this defense hasn't been as dominant as ones in years past for the Ravens, it followed a strong trend in the playoffs. The Ravens have held teams to 10 or fewer points in nine playoff games since 2000. No other team has more than four such games during that span. Denver was the second-highest scoring team in the NFL this season, averaging 30.1 points per game.

5. Flacco's turnaround: It's hard to forget Joe Flacco having an interception returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Broncos cornerback Chris Harris. What few remember is that's the last interception thrown by the Ravens quarterback. Flacco has not thrown a pick in 92 straight passes. The Ravens are 6-0 this season when Flacco doesn't throw an interception in a game where he plays four quarters.

Quick Take: Ravens at Broncos

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
5:25
PM ET
Five things to know about next Sunday’s Denver Broncos-Baltimore Ravens playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High:

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. It has won 11 straight games.

2. The Ray Lewis factor: Lewis won’t exactly be the same X factor emotionally in this game as he was for Baltimore in its win over Indianapolis on Sunday 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 and will be a factor next week. Lewis didn’t play against Denver last month and Baltimore’s defense overall is much healthier than it was when it last faced Denver.

3. Control the game on the ground: The Broncos paced their last 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 Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco throws the ball if the Ravens 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 long-term forecast calls for a cold day in the 20s with a 40 percent chance of snow. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. locally. Depending on how snowy the game is, it could be a factor. 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.

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