Experts pick the Wild-Card round
Here's a roundup of NFL analysts AFC Wild Card predictions from around the web and who the Denver Broncos will face in the divisional round if they are correct.
The first quarter saw a battle of field position that was won by the Pittsburgh Steelers fairly handily, but they could only convert that advantage to three points. That alone was a huge win for the Baltimore Ravens as they finally began getting their offense moving as they headed into the second quarter.
One thing that really popped out to me was James Harrison. It is plainly evident he came to play today and was abusing the Ravens rookie left tackle early.
The Ravens wasted no time feeding Justin Forsett the rock, getting them into position for Bernard Pierce to run it in from six yards out to put them up 7-3 over the Steelers.
Just when I thought the Ravens were about to take control of momentum, Ben Roethlisberger did something only he could do by escaping the pass rush and hitting Heath Miller for a huge 40 yard gain. The Ravens then started committing stupid penalties with 12 men on the field on fourth and one and a personal foul to give all of the momentum back to the Steelers.
Roethlisberger would cap off this drive by taking a sack on a 1st and goal play and spending the other two downs trying to get it into the end zone. The Steelers would come up short, but cut the Ravens lead to one with a field goal.
Joe Flacco followed up with a nice drive to answer that field goal to regain that four point lead, but he left plenty of time on the clock for the Steelers to close out the half with another field goal. Ravens head into halftime up 10-9.
After the Ravens opened the half up with a field goal drive, I began thinking this recap is getting boring and a touchdown would be nice. The Ravens decided this quarter would be theirs as they followed up that field goal drive with an impressive touchdown drive to go up two scores over the Steelers at 20-9.
It certainly seems that the Ravens at this point in the game are showing the Steelers who the better team is. Without Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers offense just can't seem to get going, ending the third quarter with a huge loss on an Elvis Dumervil sack of Big Ben.
In what should have been the play to seal victory after a Joe Flacco quarterback sneak on fourth down near midfield, Justin Forsett would fumble the very next play to breath life back into the Steelers team, which would make thing interesting for the rest of the game.
A huge pass completion to Antonio Brown and the eventual touchdown that play produced, would cut the Ravens lead to 20-15 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Somehow on the next Ravens possession, Jacoby Jones could not get a toe down on a 50 yards potential touchdown catch and Justin Tucker had to boot a 52 yard field goal to put the Ravens back up by a touchdown, 23-15. Then Terrell Suggs makes the actual play of the game with an interception with his thighs (yes, he caught the ball with his thighs) to put the Ravens back in Steelers territory.
That death blow would seal the Steelers fate, as the Ravens would score a touchdown on the very next play to go up by two touchdowns and out of reach, 30-15.
A late drive by the Steelers found Roethlisberger knocked out of the game with what looked like a concussion, giving Bruce Gradkowski the unenviable task of converting a 3rd and 21. Somehow, he pulled that off and was immediately benched for Big Ben to return who promptly through a game sealing interception in the end zone. Who knows what could have happened had Gradkowski stayed in for the remainder of that possession.
All said, Baltimore is off to Foxborough to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
For the Broncos, Baltimore's win means the waiting game continues. Denver has played each of these teams already this season.
Broncos 31, Colts 24, Week 1 - Peyton Manning exacted revenge on Andrew Luck in their 2014 rematch, with a big assist from Julius Thomas (three first-half touchdowns) and the Broncos defense. Rookie cornerback Bradley Roby made a game-winning pass breakup in the 4th quarter.
Broncos 27, Bengals 38, Week 16 - The Broncos' last regular season loss of 2014 was a brutal one, with Manning throwing four interceptions and Denver's run defense seemingly exposed. Most Broncos fans would love to welcome Cincy to the Mile High City for an AFC rematch.
The Ravens will travel to face the first seed New England Patriots in Foxboro next week. A Ravens win would eliminate New England, meaning a Broncos win would result in a home game for the AFC Championship Game. In other words, go Ravens!
But one week at a time. Go Broncos! - against whichever Wild-Card opponent wins Sunday.