It doesn’t take bendy mirrors or supernatural spells to unearth the morbid figures. M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore has been a house of horrors for the Denver Broncos.
Five losses. Zero wins. And worse yet, the games against the Baltimore Ravens haven’t even been close. Perhaps there is some consolation in knowing they aren’t perched in solitude. Since the beginning of the John Harbaugh era in 2008, no team has been more dominant at home than the Baltimore Ravens. That doesn’t diminish, however, the sheer curiosity of how the Broncos have been outwitted in each “grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous” trip to Baltimore.
If the Broncos are to be considered ready for the playoffs, a competitive game against the Ravens is a must. Of their ten wins, only two have come against teams with a winning record — a far cry from the level of competition they’ll face in January. So here are three keys the Broncos will have to rely on, set to obligatory Edgar Allan Poe references to distinctly remember this matchup on this bleak December day.
The Fall of the House of Usher: “I know not how it was — but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.” The Broncos must reverse the spell at M&T Bank Stadium. It has been perplexing to watch the Broncos simply wilt in previous years no matter how hot they’ve been coming into Baltimore. Very likely though, the Ravens have lost some of the magic surrounding their building as they struggle with offensive consistency and lack the smothering defense they have had in previous years. If anything, it’s the Broncos who have the offensive consistency and smothering defense. This team is primed to flip the script.
The Business Man: “I am a business man. I am a methodical man. Method is the thing, after all.” Peyton Manning has been cold-blooded, thorough, and of course — methodical. He is on pace for a career high in passing yards and is leading the discussion for the MVP of the league. The other plus? He has won his last eight games against the Ravens. Manning knows how to beat the Ravens, and this time he won’t have to worry about Ray Lewis patrolling the field.
The Pit and the Pendulum: “A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period I once more started to my feet, trembling, convulsively in every fibre.” In last week’s game, the Broncos’ offensive line looked fallible for the first time in a while, perhaps even for the first time this season. Drives were stalled in the redzone, the running game had a hard time materializing, and guard Chris Kuper was sorely missed. With Kuper out again against the Ravens, the line will have an uphill battle keeping Manning on his feet and providing holes for a running game that has to materialize in order to setup the play-action for Manning.