With Broncomania at an all-time high right now in the Mile High City, it's almost safe to say that the dreaded 4-12 2010 season for the Broncos franchise has almost been forgotten. 24 hours from now the Broncos will kick off at Sports Authority Field in Mile High against the hot and cold Baltimore Ravens. Turn on any Denver sports talk radio station right now in Denver and all you here is Ray Lewis better get ready to celebrate his retirement party. With the announcement on January 2nd of the great Ray Lewis retiring at the end of this season, the Ravens, emotionally recharged beat the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore with the Baltimore beloved Ray Lewis back on the field.
"I will die a Raven, this will be my last ride" said Ray Lewis when he announced his retirement. With Ray Lewis making his last playoff run in the NFL many people wonder if Lewis, the emotional leader he is can will his way to a win in the Mile High City tomorrow against the red hot Denver Broncos?
Harper's Keys to the Game for the Denver Broncos:
Denver must make the Baltimore offense one dimensional- The Broncos defense held pro-bowl running back Ray Rice to only 38 yards rushing back on December 16th and only three yards receiving. Most would agree that Rice is Baltimore's most explosive weapon on offense. Denver has to shut down the Ravens rushing game right from the start. Not only does Ray Rice have the potential but backup RB
Bernard Pierce went for over 100 yards last week against Indy.
Broncos will want to put the game on Joe Flaccos shoulders. Force a hot and cold Flacco to throw the ball against a dominate Denver Broncos pass rush and secondary.
Offensive Line must play at a Championship level- The Broncos offensive line must play at a championship level against a momentum pass rush. I say "momentum pass rush" because this Ravens defense feeds off of making plays. For the past decade Baltimore has been notorious for their defensive pass rush, and at times this year it has been hit or miss for the Ravens. If the Ravens get to Manning early on the Ray Lewis lead defense will feed off of it. With the return of Chris Kuper and a healthy Ryan Clady back in practice this week, Broncos offensive line has to show why they are one of the most under the radar offensive lines in football.
Control the clock- I know this may sound crazy with a Manning lead offense but here's the theory. I think Baltimore's game plan will be to control the clock and keep Peyton off of the field. Beat Baltimore at their own game. If Manning can establish a run game, and Denver can control the line of scrimmage, it would be great to see Manning put together seven to eight minute drives ending with six points. Then the Broncos can control the tempo of the game and speed it up when they want. But keeping the Baltimore defense on the field in the cold, and the altitude, after establishing long drives could be key.
With today in Denver being declared United in Orange day, come Sunday will the Broncos be preparing for an AFC Championship? Although the Broncos won 34-17 in a dominate fashion against the Ravens back on December 16th, don't expect it to be that easy tomorrow when the Ray Lewis lead Ravens walk into the Mile High. Because life long Bronco faithful remember when the last time the Ravens played a playoff game in Denver, the painful memory of the wildcard loss Denver suffered to Baltimore December 31, 2000, when the Ravens handed the favored Broncos a 21-3 home loss. My keys to the game 13 years ago would have been similar to tomorrows keys to the game. Jamal Lewis went for 110 yards 13 years ago in Denver, the main thing the Broncos have to prevent Ray Rice from doing tomorrow. What are your thoughts Bronco Country?
Tweet me your keys to the game and your prediction of the final score @JHarperMedia
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