Let’s reflect back on the 2009 season really quick:
- When Pittsburgh suddenly a sizable streak going against the Ravens, including all three meetings in the 2008 season, Flacco was finally able to win his first game against the Steelers this year.
- When the Ravens ended the season, albeit 9-7, they made the playoffs a second straight year, which they had not accomplished since 2001.
- When the Ravens traveled to Foxboro, Massachusetts, in the Wild Card round, they managed to give the Patriots their first home playoff loss since the 70s. (As similarly heavy underdogs as they are heading to Manning’s Broncos)
- Not only that, the Ravens had suddenly won 3 playoff games in 2 years, which followed a 0-3 playoff losing streak previously.
Keep in mind that this all happened the year Flacco went through the cliche “sophomore slump” that almost all quarterbacks go through their 2nd year. Other than Baltimore’s fantastic beat-down of the Patriots in the playoffs (also the first time they ever beat them), the 2009 season is not that memorable or significant to Ravens fans.
Now, as we continue the 2012 NFL season into the first weeks of 2013, we see a Ravens team in the midst of another huge streak: Peyton Manning’s personal 9-game winning streak against Baltimore.
The Ravens managed to lose one of their more awesome streaks this year, which consisted of not losing a home game since 2010. So, with many other streaks that have been broken because of or in spite of the Ravens (including the Texans 1st ever win against us), doesn’t it seem logical that the Manning streak is next on the list?
There are a few other reasons to remain optimistic about our guys’ chances.
First of all, we now have Jim Caldwell running our offense. This benefits the Ravens in two ways: we have Manning’s old coach which will help our offense and that we have Manning’s old coach which will help our defense. With Caldwell fully under the helm coaching the first team offense, the Ravens have exploded in yards against both the Colts and the Giants. Also, Caldwell should know well what are Manning’s limits, weaknesses, and patterns.
Secondly, the time off problem that affects Peyton just about every postseason. We have seen in years past that more often than not that Peyton Manning would lead the Colts to a division title, rest either in week 17 or for a first round bye, and come out all rusty in the playoffs. The only Super Bowl victory Manning had was during an off year for the Colts in 2006, when they had to go to the playoffs as a wild card team. This year they encounter a Ravens team fresh from an explosive victory, brimming with momentum and a more healthy team than their last encounter four weeks prior.
Finally, we get all of the intangibles. Yes, Manning does have a personal nine game win streak against the Ravens (the 2nd longest win streak a quarterback currently has against a team after Flacco’s 10 game streak versus the Browns), but there happens to be more factors against him. In addition to his teams struggling after a bye/ resting a week before the playoffs, he also has a bit of trouble in games that are colder than 40 degrees, where he is 0-3 in the playoffs. This, in addition to his recent neck surgery and arm problems along with him being 36 years old. The temperature is predicted to be about 20 degrees on Saturday in Denver (while we get about 60 degrees here in Baltimore) so expect some limitation on passing. You also get the aforementioned tangibles in the previous blog post about Flacco playing for a better future and Ray Lewis going out with a bang. Also, to keep in mind, our defensive coordinator is still Dean Pees, who was previously employed by the Patriots in developing their successful schemes to beat Manning (and he may be very useful next week if the Ravens face the Patriots again).
All in all, no matter the outcome, I’ve enjoyed this year and do hope this can be the start of a new football dynasty.
Enjoy your weekend.
P.S. Game time is 4:30pm Saturday on CBS.
PHOTO CREDIT: JOE FLACCO5.COM