NFL Betting Odds and Free Picks: Baltimore Ravens vs Denver Broncos
Saturday, January 12, 2013
For the Ray Lewis retirement tour to continue, the Baltimore Ravens will have to overcome an imposing obstacle when they visit Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Denver Broncos on Saturday in the AFC divisional round. Manning, in his first season in Denver, guided the white-hot Broncos to 11 consecutive victories to close out the regular season. Among those wins was a dominating 34-17 rout of the Ravens in Baltimore less than a month ago - a game Denver led 31-3 after three quarters. It was Manning's ninth straight victory over the Ravens.
Lewis returned from a 10-game absence to register a team-high 13 tackles and spark an emotional 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts a week ago. Unlike the Broncos, Baltimore stumbled down the stretch and lost four of its final five games before beating the Colts and permitting its fewest points since a 13-10 victory at Pittsburgh in Week 11. Still, the once-vaunted defense remains susceptible, allowing Indianapolis to hold the ball for more than 37 minutes.
Baltimore Ravens (11-6): Joe Flacco's resume hardly stacks up to Manning's but he is the only quarterback in league history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. He threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts while compiling his highest passer rating (125.6) since the season opener. Veteran Anquan Boldin was his favorite target with five catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Flacco struggled against Denver in Week 15, throwing a killer interception that was returned 98 yards for a TD to break the game open. Star RB Ray Rice was a non-factor in that game with only 38 yards on 12 carries. He also lost two fumbles in last week's win. Rookie RB Bernard Pierce has taken on a bigger role and had his second 100-yard game in three weeks against the Colts. Baltimore allowed Denver to control the clock for 38 1/2 minutes in the first matchup.
Denver Broncos (13-3): Denver has not lost since a 31-21 defeat at New England on Oct. 7. Much has been made about the lack of quality competition during the winning streak, but the Broncos limited Baltimore to 56 yards rushing and 278 total. Manning had a rather pedestrian performance, throwing for a season-low 204 yards and one touchdown. He finished the season with back-to-back three-touchdown games, giving him 37 TDs vs. only 11 interceptions. Wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker each went over 1,000 yards and combined to catch 23 scoring passes. Knowshon Moreno, who took over for an injured Willis McGahee in the final six weeks, rushed for 115 yards and a score against Baltimore. Denver's defense, led by the pass-rushing tandem of linebacker Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, has peaked down the stretch and surrendered only 45 points in its final four games.
1. Denver has scored at least 30 points nine times and posted seven double-digit victories during its winning streak
2. Ravens S Ed Reed has eight interceptions in the playoffs, tied for fourth on the all-time list.
3. The Broncos own a stellar 13-3 home record in the postseason.
NFL Football Prediction: Broncos 27, Ravens 17.
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