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Packers’ pass pressure vs. Colin Kaepernick’s playoff jitters
Green Bay will be turning up the pressure with young QB Colin Kaepernick taking his first postseason snaps. The Packers ranked fourth in sacks with 47 and will look to attack the edges with their tricky blitz packages in order to contain the Niners’ dual-threat.
Over the past three games - versus Arizona, Seattle and New England – Kaepernick has been heavily pressured and has completed just 55.3 percent of his passes. He’s also had a tough time hanging on to the ball with nine fumbles on the year – tied for eighth most in the league.
Ravens' offense: Anquan Boldin caught five Joe Flacco passes for 145 yards to set a Ravens’ record in the win over Indianapolis. Flacco finished with a pair of touchdown passes and once again quieted his long list of critics, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in his first five years in the league. Flacco improved to 6-4 in playoff games. Normally sure-handed Ray Rice fumbled twice in the game but finished with 117 all-purpose yards, and backup Bernard Pierce stayed hot and rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries, giving Baltimore a solid one-two punch in the backfield.
Broncos' offense: Manning finished with typical Manning numbers. He was second in passer rating and completion percentage, third in touchdowns and sixth in passing yards. In the backfield, Knowshon Moreno has made everyone forget about Willis McGahee, who tore his knee on Nov. 18 and is not eligible to come off the injury list until next week. Moreno was inactive for eight straight games before the injury to McGahee and has rushed for over 500 yards in six starts since. Manning has several talented targets, including Demaryius Thomas, who has become one of the top receivers in the league. Thomas is a big downfield threat and finished fourth in the NFL in receiving yards and had 10 touchdowns. Eric Decker, Brandon Stokley and tight end Jacob Tamme give Manning plenty of options. Denver averaged 30.1 points a game in the regular season.
Peyton began his career with a pair of losses to the Ravens (the most recent of which came in 2001), and he’s followed those up by ringing off nine straight wins against them, two of which came in the playoffs. The average margin of victory in those games was 14.0 points.
Peyton threw for 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in those games against far better defensive units than the one he’ll face on Saturday. Most notable for our purposes is that in the last eight contests against the Ravens, Peyton’s team is 8-0 ATS.
Broncos' defense: While some question Denver’s schedule because it played six games against the weak AFC West Division, its defense has been just as solid as its offense. Denver was staunch against both the pass and the run, finishing second in total defense. The Broncos allowed just 18.1 points a game, second only to Seattle. Denver stymied Baltimore in a 34-17 win just a month ago. The Broncos limited Rice and the Ravens’ running game to 56 yards, and they led 31-3 before coasting in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter, Baltimore totaled 21 yards on 12 plays, punted three times and lost a fumble.