AFC Playoffs: Baltimore (11-6) at Denver (13-3)

Saturday January 12, 2013 2:52 PM
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Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. today, Sports Authority Field at Mile High

TV-Radio: CBS (Ch. 10);

WBNS-FM (97.1)

Line: Broncos by 91/2

Forecast: 17 degrees, sunny

The setup

 The Ravens are rallying around soon-to-be retiring LB Ray Lewis and want to atone for a 34-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 15. “I was hoping we’d get Denver again. This time we’ll make it different,” WR Anquan Boldin said. Be careful what you wish for: Behind QB Peyton Manning, the Broncos have won 11 in a row and rolled to the AFC’s top seed. Denver has the NFL’s fourth-ranked offense and No. 2 defense.

Key matchup

Broncos receivers

vs. Ravens defensive backs

 Denver’s Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have flourished with Manning under center, combining for 179 catches, 2,498 yards and 23 touchdowns this season (last season, those numbers were 76 catches and 13 touchdowns). Decker had eight catches for 133 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown, in the teams’ first meeting. The Ravens were average in pass defense (17th), but they do have a playmaker in the secondary: Safety Ed Reed has eight career postseason interceptions, tied for fourth most in NFL history.

Stats and stuff

 The Ravens won the only previous playoff matchup, 21-3, in 2000, then went on to win the Super Bowl. … Denver CB Chris Harris intercepted Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and returned it 96 yards against Baltimore in the regular season, denying the Ravens a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half. Instead of a potential score of 10-7, Denver led 17-0. … Flacco is the first starting QB in NFL history to lead his team into the playoffs in each of his first five seasons. He hasn’t missed a game since becoming the Ravens’ starter as a rookie.

Fun fact

 Manning is 0-3 in the playoffs — with one touchdown and seven interceptions — when the kickoff temperature is below 40. Surprisingly, he is only 9-10 overall in the postseason, all with Indianapolis.

How it might play out

 Almost all signs point to a comfortable Broncos victory. Denver is 13-3 at home in the postseason and handled Baltimore only a month ago. Manning should win this final matchup with Lewis, who doesn’t have enough help.

— From wire reports

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