I’m not sure if you have noticed, but not many people are giving the Ravens a chance this Saturday. Many have told me they are going to get crushed by the Broncos. But that, to me, is hard to believe.
Yes, I recognize the Broncos beat the Ravens pretty badly in week fifteen but the game was close until halftime. In case you missed it, Joe Flacco threw a ninety-plus yard pick-six that turned the tide of the game. If that did not happen, and the Ravens scored a touchdown, the Ravens might not have won the game, but it would have been much closer.
Through five seasons, I have never seen Flacco play as badly as he did against the Broncos. Despite that performance, Flacco did come back and play one of the best games of his career against the Giants.
If the Ravens want to win this game, Flacco is going to have to have a big game pertaining to short and intermediate throws. You can’t beat Peyton Manning by trying to score more points than him. That strategy rarely works and the Ravens have the personel to beat Manning.
The classic strategy to beat a legendary quarterback is to keep him off the field with long drives. That means Ray Rice (who will be motivated after the two funbles), Bernard Pierce, Dennis Pitta, and Ed Dickson are going to have big time games. Rice is a superstar, we know that and Pierce has developed into a very good backup (Pierce could be starting on several NFL teams). Pitta and Dickson are crucial because they mostly contribute to the short and intermediate throws.
In week fifteen, Pitta had a big game. Catching seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive line should help Flacco in this game. They did give up three sacks in week fifteen but the Ravens have made changes to the offensive line that many have been calling for. With Bryant McKinnie moving to left tackle, Oher to right tackle, and Osemele to left guard, the offensive line looked good against the Colts.
With the amount of time the Ravens defense was on the field against the Colts, many are saying that is a disadvantage going into this week’s game against Denver’s no huddle offense. Being the optimist that I am, I think this has a positive effect for the Ravens as well. With all the injuries this defense has suffered, younger players have been forced to step in and play larger roles. Players like Chyke Brown, Albert McClellan, Courtney UpShaw, Corey Graham, and others all gained valuable experience against the Colts that will be helpful come kickoff on Saturday.
While I am not picking the Ravens to win this game, it will be much closer than many are predicting. This game could come down to a field goal and if it does, the advantage would have to go to Matt Prater.