Ravens Host Peyton Manning and the Red Hot Broncos
The 9-4 Ravens, fresh off two straight losses, host the red hot 10-3 Broncos this Sunday in Baltimore at 1 p.m. Denver has ripped off eight straight wins behind the MVP caliber play of 36 year old, future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning, a Ravens killer by historical standards, continues to add to his legacy with the Broncos after sitting out last season recovering from neck surgery.
He’s tossed for 3,812 yards through the first 13 games, with 30 touchdowns and 10 picks, and will undoubtedly be headed to his 12th Pro Bowl this year.
Baltimore’s offense on the other hand, hit the near-panic button on Monday by firing fan public enemy number one, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Cameron has been replaced by quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell’s never called a play in the NFL, and owes much of his success in the league to none other than a one Peyton Manning, who Caldwell coached in Indianapolis for nine years, seven as the Colts quarterbacks coach, and two as Indy’s head coach. Caldwell was fired from Indianapolis after last season when the Manning-less Colts won just two games.
Both teams continue to battle for the AFC’s top two playoff seeds heading into Week 14. Here are some keys to the game.
The New OC
With the official canning of Cameron, which has been a topic of media debate for the better part of three years, QB Joe Flacco officially loses our most convenient excuse for his inconsistent performances. It’s not realistic to expect major changes to the offense at this point in the season, but Caldwell will probably loosen the reins on Flacco by allowing more no-huddle offense, thereby allowing Joe to make play changes at the line, in contrast to Cameron’s style of strict control.
Flacco and his offense will be tested in a big way by Denver’s fourth ranked hard-hitting defense. The Broncos feature relentless outside linebacker Von Miller, one of the top young players in the league, sure-tackling punishers Elvis Dumervil and Keith Brooking, and ageless Canton-bound cornerback Champ Bailey. With Flacco’s current bid for a high dollar offseason contract extension not meeting expectations, it will be interesting to see how he responds with pressure mounting and under the tutelage of a new captain of the ship for the final three games of the year.