The Ravens have quite a task on their hands. The team has won only two games since week thirteen and have never looked like a dominant team except for three wins against the Raiders, Bengals, and Giants. Now, they must face Peyton Manning with a beat up defense in harsh conditions.
While Manning has been dominant all season long, the Ravens did hold Manning to a season low 204 passing yards in week fifteen. If it were not for Flacco’s pick-six at the end of the half and the Ravens contained Knowshawn Moreno, the game would have been much different.
Here are some players that I consider to be x-factors for the game.
1. Bernard Pierce
Pierce has been a sensational rookie. He has rushed for over 100 yards in two of the last three weeks and runs with tremendous physicality and under rated speed. The Ravens have to keep Manning off the field if they want to win this game. Therefore, Pierce even though he is a backup, should get a lot of touches.
2. Chykie Brown
Brown has received much more playing time of late. He was stellar against the Giants and was praised by Ed Reed after the game. Brown was one of the few players that benefited from being on the field for eighty plus plays against the Colts. That allowed him to gain experience that he will need against the Broncos.
3. Dennis Pitta
Pitta had a career game against the Broncos in week fifteen. The Broncos struggled tackling him and he will present a match-up problem in the red zone on Saturday. Pitta is going to get a lot of attention in this game so he will have to win the one-on-one match-ups when given the opportunity.
4. Kelechi Osemeli
Osemele played well at right tackle the entire year but at this point in his career, is a better guard. He opened up a lot of holes for Rice and was good in pass blocking as well. With his inexperience at guard, I expect the Broncos to blitz up the middle in an attempt to confuse the rookie which in turn, could give Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil one-on-one match-ups.
5. Tandon Doss
Many Ravens fans have been waiting for Doss to have any sort of impact on the Ravens’ offense. He had opportunities against the Colts but dropped every pass that came his way. From everything I have heard about Doss’s hands, those should have been easy catches for him. Colder weather obviously makes it harder to catch the football so Doss must make plays when given opportunities.