Two very different NFL teams will meet Sunday at Mile High.
The Baltimore Ravens come in fueled by bravado and led by Ray Lewis, the chest-pounding inspirational leader of their defense. Lewis, who is a famous for his pre-game dance routine as he is for creating chaos in the backfield, motivates his fellow players with fire and brimstone, flash and bluster. He’s the center of attention on a team that’s found success not by scoring in bunches, but in preventing opponents from finding pay dirt. The Ravens are an aging defensive team, built to resemble their rivals in the AFC North.
The Denver Broncos will defend their home turf with Peyton Manning at the helm. Manning, who is as close to a being player / coach as any quarterback in the history of the NFL, uses his football intellect to direct his offense. He calls audibles and formation changes on the fly, shouts commands and directs traffic in an effort to befuddle defenses and expose their weaknesses. He’s a cerebral and humble leader – not only on game day, but in preparation throughout a given week. He gives his squad a quiet confidence as they know that succeeding is a simple matter of following his lead.
The contrast between the Ravens of the North and the Broncos of the West is as stark as the varying leadership styles of their Generals. The Baltimore approach is intimidation; the Broncos are more tactical than that.
Denver enjoys the advantage of having an attacking defense, yet aside from Von Miller’s sack dances, carries it’s self with more decorum than the Ravens. The Broncos defense does its boasting with results. It’s on the offensive side of the ball that Denver has earned its reputation. Peyton Manning moves the ball down the field with rare efficiency. Thirty points seems to be the Broncos baseline for total scoring.
Baltimore’s offense is capable of producing with both the passing and running attack. Joe Flacco, while inconsistent, has a big arm and can complete long passes downfield. Ray Rice is on his way to a Hall of Fame worthy career, producing yardage as a pure back and as a receiver. The Ravens are defined by their defense, however. Their ability to hold opponents down is what has made them a contender year after year.
The coming Divisional round playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos pits two teams with vastly contrasting styles against one another. The difference between the two clubs is reflected not only in their differing strengths, but in the conflicting leadership styles of Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning. It’s a clash between self-applauding and self-deprecating, high and mighty and quietly confident.