2012 AFC Divisional Playoffs-Walking Wounded Angle

Sunday's game may be Ray Lewis' last. - Eliot J. Schechter

Which team will play the Broncos next week?

By virtue of having the #1 seed in the AFC, the Denver Broncos get a respite this week before gearing up for the postseason tournament. They will have seven extra days to get everyone healthy as they wait and see who their next opponent will be.

This begs the question I have for Broncos Country. We know the 3 teams who are in the mix. The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts. We know their records, their seedings and their strengths, but from an injury standpoint, which team would you want to meet next week?

Let’s look at the weaknesses, or lack of key personnel due to injury if you will, of these three teams.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

The Ravens have lost 11 players to Injured Reserve this season. Among those were key starters CB Lardarius Webb and LB Jameel McClain. LBs Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs have missed most of the season and are trying to return this week. Baltimore’s Linebacking corp has been decimated this season.
Lewis is going to retire after the playoffs, no matter how far the Baltimore Ravens make it, so this is his swan song.

INJURED RESERVE
WR LaQuan Williams - undisclosed
LB Jameel McClain - neck/spine
S Anthony Levine - shoulder
RB Damien Berry - neck/shoulder
LB Michael McAdoo - Achilles
WR Tommy Streeter(R) - foot
DT Ryan McBean - ankle
RB Bobby Rainey(R) - knee
CB Lardarius Webb - knee
LB Ricky Brown - head
S Emanuel Cook - leg

None of these players participated in the Week 15 game against Denver. The Broncos won 34-17 in Baltimore for the first time ever, so this shouldn’t make any difference.

Now let’s see what their Injury status looks like this week.

WILD CARD WEEK STATUS
LB Albert McClellan - Questionable (thigh/shoulder)
LB Ray Lewis - Questionable (triceps)
WR Tandon Doss - Questionable (ankle)
SS Bernard Pollard - Questionable (chest)
RG Marshall Yanda - Questionable (shoulder/knee)
FB Vonta Leach - Probable (ankle)
LB Terrell Suggs - Probable (biceps)
T Kelechi Osemele(R) - Probable (knee)
DT Haloti Ngata - Probable (knee)
WR Anquan Boldin - Probable (shoulder)

With the exception of Tandon Doss, who is the #4 Wide Receiver, all of these players are Starters for the Ravens. Doss and Albert McClellan played about half of the game (30 snaps) and Terrell Suggs played most of the game. Osemele, Ngata and Boldin played the entire game against the Broncos.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Colts have done very well this season under Bruce Arians, but many feel they have overachieved because of head coach Chuck Pagano, who has missed the greater part of the season in a fight with Cancer. The team has rallied around their coach, even to the point of shaving their heads in solidarity. I don’t think this emotional factor should be ignored.

Indy has lost 14 players to Injured Reserve this season, including Starters Fili Moala, Austin Collie, Jerraud Powers and Brandon McKinney.

INJURED RESERVE
DT Fili Moala - knee
DE Drake Nevis - hand
WR Griff Whalen(R) - foot
WR Austin Collie - knee
LB A.J. Edds - knee
LB Robert Hughes - knee
RB Donald Brown - ankle
CB Jerraud Powers - toe
RB Deji Karim - undisclosed
DT Josh Chapman(R) - knee
T Ben Ijalana - knee
DT Brandon McKinney - knee
LB Scott Lutrus - knee
LB Justin Hickman(R) - Hamstring

The Colts have 6 Starters and one Backup that may not even play in their Wildcard game against the Ravens on Sunday.

WILD CARD WEEK STATUS
LB Kavell Conner - Questionable (hamstring)
RB Delone Carter - Questionable (ankle)
DE Cory Redding - Questionable (quadricep)
NT Antonio Johnson - Questionable (ankle)
G Joe Reitz - Questionable (head)
C Samson Satele - Questionable (ankle)
SS Tom Zbikowski - Questionable (knee)

The game is in Baltimore and the Raven’s are favored by 6.5 points. Will "ChuckStrong" be enough to overcome Ray Lewis’ last game at M&T Stadium?


CINCINNATI BENGALS

The Bengals have lost 13 players to the Injured Reserve List, but none of them were Starters. Their #1 Draft pick (17th overall), CB Dre Kirkpatrick, only played in five games this season, with 4 Tackles before hitting the IR on Christmas Day.

INJURED RESERVE
RB Chris Pressley - knee
CB Dre Kirkpatrick(R) - knee
RB Bernard Scott - knee
LB Thomas Howard - knee
FS Robert Sands - chest
DB Brandon Ghee - wrist
CB Shaun Prater(R) - knee
K Mike Nugent - calf
WR Mohamed Sanu(R) - foot
DE Jamaal Anderson - quadricep
S Tony Dye(R) - ankle
CB Taveon Rogers(R) - shoulder
T Travelle Wharton - knee

RB Chris Pressley and WR Mohamed Sanu only played a dozen snaps or so in the Broncos Week 9, 31-23 victory in Cincinnati. The Bengals are dinged up in the secondary this week, but otherwise they are in good shape.

WILD CARD WEEK STATUS
DL Dontay Moch - Out (illness- non-injury list)
CB Terence Newman - Questionable (hamstring)
DB Chris Crocker - Questionable (quadricep)
DB Jason Allen - Questionable (hamstring)
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis - Probable (hamstring)

The Bengals are in Houston to play the Texans on Saturday, with the Texans favored by 4.5 points. Houston QB Matt Schaub has been unsteady lately but their Defense is playing well. Can the Bengal pass rush keep Schaub flustered? Cincy beat the Ravens last week while Indianapolis beat the Texans. Out of the three teams, the Bengals are the healthiest. To me, they look like the legitimate contender to face the Broncos in the Divisional Championship game next week.

Which team do you think the Broncos will face?

Go Broncos!

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