So, I came pretty close in my prediction of the Ravens win over the Colts this past Sunday. I had it 24-14 Ravens, and the defense actually did even better at keeping points off the board (even those they bent but not broke to the tune of 87 plays, 419 yards and 37 minutes time of possession by the Colts) in their 24-9 victory. Now comes the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Not many people are giving us much of a chance at winning this one. Certainly, the so-called "experts" aren't in our favor. I guess it makes sense on the surface; the Broncos kicked our butts when we played a few weeks ago, and the Ravens have never beaten Manning, so why pick Denver to lose?
Well...#1, the Ravens were not close to full strength when we played them earlier this season. #2, the game really turned on one play, the hideous pass by Joe Flacco as the Raven were on the verge of scoring to make it a 10-7 (or at worst 10-3) game, which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by the Broncos. Suddenly, a 10-7 likelihood became a 17-0 disaster. Ball game, and illusion that the Broncos are a far superior team. #3, very few of those players from all those losses by the Ravens to Peyton Manning are still around playing with the team, so that 9-game personal winning streak by Manning doesn't really carry that much weight with me. #4, Peyton's playoff record is fairly mediocre - 9 wins versus 10 losses - and he hasn't been anything special in cold weather (predicted 18 degrees in Denver today). #1, every year a #1 seed gets bumped off in the divisional round; why now the Broncos this year?
So...my prediction: the Broncos start off fast, but the ravens (like last week) bend but don't break, forcing Denver into field goals instead of touchdowns. The Ravens offense, much like in the first Ravens/Broncos game, get off to another miserable start, but the team gets helped by a big Jacoby Jones touchdown and an Ed Reed interception for a TD, and the Ravens go into halftime with a lead,despite having done a thing on offense. In the second half, however, the offense gets it going and puts together a couple of scoring drives. the defense continues to give up chunks of yardage to Peyton, but the Broncos will only score one TD (and another Field Goal).
In the end, my RAVENS are victorious on the road, 27-22! On to New England (who will beat Houston), and revenge/redemption for last year's heartbreaking Lee Evans/Billy Cundiff disaster!