The Ravens relish the underdog role
Yes, the Ravens have seen Denver already, and they certainly remember what happened. And the Ravens are much healthier this time around, especially on defense. So, as the old song says, that was then and this is now. The question is what can the Ravens do now.
Here's a few things that would help them if they want to move on to the AFC title game once again.
1. Don't let Peyton Manning stand in the pocket all day-- Paul Kruger needs to get to know Mr. Manning very well. If Kruger can have the kind of day he did last weekend against the Colts, it would help. Or if anyone else does. If you can disturb Manning back there, it will throw him off his timing. But that's a big "if."
2. Get good pass coverage-- same as above. If someone's open, Manning will find him. Count on it. And that will hurt you. Count on it.
3. Tackle well, especially in the open field-- When the Ravens keep teams under control, they tackle well in the open field. In the NFL, someone can easily turn a five-yard pass into a 30-yard gain. Don't let Denver's receivers run wild.
4. Keep the ball out of Manning's hands and keep him off the field-- Translation: the offense needs to get a bunch of drives that last awhile. Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and even Bernard Pierce could be keys here. If the Ravens can run it or control the clock with short to mid-range passes, they'll get some six-minute drives. Manning will have a nice seat on the bench to watch them.
5. Sam Koch and Justin Tucker need to do well-- If Koch can help the defense by pinning Denver deep, that would be a huge plus for the Ravens in this game. Tucker has shown that kicking field goals longer than 50 yards is no problem for him, and deep kickoffs will give the defense another boost. The fact that both guys will be in the high altitude will help them.
6. The defense needs to play its game-- If Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and others can play the way they're capable of, it will force Manning to work for whatever he gets. That's really the best you can do against this future Hall of Famer.