Broncos ready for rematch with Ravens

Peyton Manning will have to wait until next season to face the

Indianapolis Colts.

His old team lost 24-9 at Baltimore in the AFC wild-card game

Sunday. So the Ravens (11-6) will visit Denver next weekend to face

the Broncos (13-3), the AFC’s top seed.

Had the Colts won, there would have been a circus-like

atmosphere all week in Denver in anticipation of the reunion

between the Broncos quarterback and the team he played with for 14

seasons before their split last spring.

Instead, the Broncos get a chance to send Ray Lewis into

retirement Saturday.

Manning will face the Colts sometime next season in Indianapolis

– the exact date won’t be known until the 2013 schedule comes

out.

The Broncos are coming off a bye and riding an 11-game winning

streak that includes a 34-17 win at Baltimore in Week 15.

”It matters in the fact that you have film from having played

them and you know them a little better than you know Indy,”

Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme said. ”But we would know Indy just

as well as any other team we play in the playoffs. So, at the end

of the day, it doesn’t matter.”

The Ravens weren’t at full strength last month. Sunday marked

the first time all season that they had defensive playmakers Lewis,

Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata on the field together.

”It means nothing that we beat them in the regular season. I

know we beat them pretty good, but in the playoffs it’s just a

different game,” wide receiver Brandon Stokley said.

Like Tamme, Stokley is a former teammate of Manning’s in Indy,

and he said the four-time MVP and the rest of the Broncos know

better than to let their guard down now.

”That was the same scenario against Pittsburgh when Peyton and

I were in Indy. We whipped them pretty good and we played them a

couple of weeks later after a bye and they beat us in the playoffs,

you know?” Stokley said. ”So it doesn’t matter what you did in

the regular season.”

Asked last week if he’d watch the Colts game with anything more

than a technical interest, Manning said: ”I’ve always watched the

playoff games. It’s certainly one of the three teams that we could

play. It’s an exciting time for football.”

The Broncos worked all of last week as they prepared for the

possibility of facing the Colts, Bengals and Ravens, and they had a

team lift on Saturday. They return to work Monday.

Notes: The AFC’s final four – Denver, Baltimore, New England and

Houston – is the same as last year. … Since John Elway retired,

the Broncos are 2-1 in home playoff games with wins over New

England in `05 and Pittsburgh last year. They also lost the AFC

title game to the Steelers in January 2006. … Manning is 6-4 at

home in the playoffs. By comparison, Elway was 9-2. … Of this

year’s 12 playoff teams, seven used iPad playbooks: the Broncos,

Bengals, Colts and Ravens in the AFC and the Packers, Redskins and

Seahawks in the NFC. In all, 14 of the 32 teams used the tablets

this year. A bunch more teams are expected to ditch the old

three-ring binders next year when the league makes game film

available in high definition.

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