Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos NFL Playoff Predictions 1/12/13

Last Updated: January 6th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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Broncos vs. RavensThe 2013 NFL playoff picks are going to be difficult to make, and in this one, the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos are set to do battle with one another. Check out our Ravens vs. Broncos predictions and the keys to the game for Baltimore vs. Denver.

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#4 Baltimore Ravens @ #1 Denver Broncos
Ravens vs. Broncos Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Ravens vs. Broncos Date/Time: Saturday, January 12th, 4:30 p.m. (ET)
Ravens vs. Broncos On TV: CBS

Key #1: The Ravens need another inspired effort defensively
The statistics on the win against the Indianapolis Colts weren’t the prettiest in the world for the Ravens, but when push came to shove, they got the job done against a very good offensive unit. The Colts did move the ball quite a bit, getting 25 first downs and 419 total yards, but the defense managed 12 pass defenses over the course of the day and picked up three sacks, 2.5 of which came from DT Paul Kruger. LB Ray Lewis, playing in his final home game of his career, had nine tackles and four assists, and he looked like his old self. QB Andrew Luck only completed 51.9 percent of his passes and was picked off once, and a lot of his yards came after the game was a bit out of reach. The Ravens aren’t going to be able to afford allowing over 400 yards to the Broncos if they want to win, but they do need to play with that same sort of intensity, especially when Denver gets down in the red zone if they want to have a chance of pulling off the upset against the top seed in the AFC.

Ravens @ Broncos Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
Baltimore Ravens +9
Denver Broncos -9
Over/Under 45.5
Click Here to Bet Your Ravens vs. Broncos Picks!

Key #2: The General has to continue to command the field
There aren’t many quarterbacks like QB Peyton Manning out there. Manning came back this year after missing the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, and he really is as good as he has ever been. Manning completed a whopping 400 passes and finished with 4,695 yards and 37 TDs against 11 picks. Manning averaged 297.5 passing yards per game over the course of his last 14 games of the season after getting his feet wet with his brand new team. He has posted 13 straight games with at least a 90 quarterback rating and has had nine games in his last 14 with at least three touchdown passes. The bugaboo on Manning though, is that he really hasn’t been able to win the biggest games of his career. Little brother, Eli has one more Super Bowl title than does the elder Manning brother, and little Eli has beaten QB Tom Brady twice, something that has always plagued Peyton. This isn’t the biggest game in the world that Manning has ever played, but it comes against a team that has a defense that really can frustrate him. That being said, in nine games against the Ravens in his career, Manning has averaged 275.2 passing yards per game, has completed 64.7 percent of his passes, and has an 18/5 TD/INT ratio. With a suspect running game, Manning needs to keep that up if he is going to lead his team to the AFC Championship Game.

Key #3: Ray Rice has to hold onto the football
Over the course of his entire 77-game career, RB Ray Rice had only fumbled the ball seven times and lost six of them. He had never had a game with two fumbles ever, but he was stripped twice last week by the Colts, and the team lost both fumbles. Granted, that paved to way to a 100+ yard day for backup RB Bernard Pierce, but this time around, we know that it is going to be Rice that has to be the dynamic one to win this game. The Ravens have run for 396 yards in their last two serious games (forget about a Week 17 loss that meant nothing to the Cincinnati Bengals), but in Week 14, they only ended up with 19 carries for 56 yards as a team against these very same Broncos. Rice had just 38 yards on 12 carries, and he really hasn’t looked totally the same since that point. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that the Ravens need to account for at least 120 yards on the ground to have a chance in this one, and means that Rice has to not only hold onto the football, but continue to rumble through this stout Denver defense to have a chance at the upset.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Sunday, January 6th, 2013 @ 7:36 pm (EST)
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