Ravens Facing Broncos...Tonight Packers Visit Candlestick 1/12/13
January 12, 2013
The Broncos and Ravens meet for the second time this season, but this time much more is at stake: a spot in the AFC title game.
Denver won the earlier meeting 34-17 at Baltimore last month, part of the Broncos' climb to the top seed in the conference behind the resurgence of quarterback Peyton Manning. He's guided Denver to a 13-3 mark and 11-game winning streak in his return from neck surgeries that kept him out all last season. Manning has beaten the Ravens nine straight times.
Baltimore is not only trying to make it to the Super Bowl again, but also trying to prolong the career of 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, who is retiring after the playoffs.
The Ravens offense will rely heavily on quarterback Joe Flacco, who set a career high in passing yards this season. Ray Rice is coming off his fourth straight 1,000-yard rushing season for 11-6 Baltimore.
San Francisco hosts Green Bay in a rematch of a week-one encounter that saw the 49ers prevail 30-22. To repeat that win the Niners are going to have to derail Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who hasn't thrown an interception in five straight games and 177 passes. Rodgers will be running Green Bay's high-powered offense with a completely healthy receiving corps of Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. On defense, the 12-5 Packers have held opponents to 20 or fewer points in nine of the last 11 games.
San Francisco is expected to have hard-nosed defensive lineman Justin Smith back in the line-up to chase Rodgers. Smith has missed the past two games with a torn left triceps muscle.
Colin Kaepernick (KAP'-ur-nihk) took over at quarterback in midseason when Alex Smith was out injured and hasn't given the job back. He's proved to be a multi-dimensional threat passing and running the ball, helping San Francisco close out an 11-4-1 season.