We are down to the Elite eight in the NFL, and all of the flukes are out of there. The teams left have all earned their spots, and we should have a great slate of games this weekend. Last year, we had an instant classic with the Saints losing in a shootout to the 49ers. What game will bring the same tension? Let’s take a closer look. As a side note, we went 3-1 last week, with the Indianapolis Colts providing the only loss for us. Let’s start with Baltimore at Denver.
Before we break down the specific teams, let’s look at the matchup for a bit. The Ravens shook off their late season woes with a convincing 24-9 win over the Colts last week. The offense had a solid game, and I was surprised at how well the defense contained Andrew Luck and the Colts offense. I knew Lewis would provide a boost, but I didn’t think he would be THAT effective. Meanwhile, the Broncos embody the definition of “hot team” as they are riding the longest winning streak in the NFL, 11 games. Peyton Manning has likely locked up his record setting 5th MVP, and he will look to get his first playoff win in a Denver uni.
How the Broncos Can Win: It’s been over three months since I didn’t think that the Broncos were the class of the AFC. In my estimation, the Broncos are the only team that don’t have a glaring weakness. The one thing you might be able to grab at is their lack of production at running back, but Manning automatically makes any running back decent. Combine that with Manning’s huge weapons on the outside, and their absolutely stacked, young, and talented offense, and I would be shocked if the Broncos don’t keep up their winning ways. The tough part for Baltimore is that the film on how to beat Denver is out of date. Denver struggled in the first half of the games they lost, but since they figured that out, they’ve looked boarderline unstoppable.
How the Ravens Can Win: Joe Flacco would figure to be the difference maker here. Flacco came into the season demanding respect as an elite QB, and after a few big wins to start the year, including a victory over the Patriots, it looked like he had earned it. However, he flat out disappeared in a few big games this season, and the Ravens plummeted as a result. In order for the Ravens to pull off the upset, he will need to have one of his best playoff games of his career. Defensively, the Ravens defense will once again need to play like the old days, and give Peyton some trouble, which they’ve definitely done before. Also, Ed Reed, who is known for being a top ball hawking safety, will need to make a big play or two to swing the momentum in what could be a great game.
Our Prediction: This game could be an instant classic, or it could be a Broncos blowout. I’d be shocked if the Ravens went into Denver and jumped out to a huge lead. Along those same lines, the Ravens aren’t built to make big comebacks, so if Denver can put up a 10 or 13 point early lead, they will let Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil loose on Flacco. If that happens, it could be a veryyyyy long day for Flacco. Above all else, let’s not forget that Denver destroyed the Ravens in Baltimore 34-17, and the game wasn’t even that close. I love the Broncos here, and I don’t see them winning by less then seven points here. Broncos get the win 31-20.
What do you think will happen? Will Peyton Manning lead the Broncos to the AFC Championship, or will the Ravens keep Ray Lewis’ career going one more game? Let us know what you think in the comments!