The primary reason, of course, is the presence of Peyton Manning. The quarterback is a leading MVP candidate and he's led the Broncos to 11 straight victories. There are few flaws in his game.
However, Saturday, Manning must prove something he hasn’t been able to do since his NFL career began in 1998: He must show he can win a cold-weather playoff game.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning is 0-3 in the playoffs when playing in temperatures under 40 degrees. The game-time temperature Saturday is expected to be around 25.
Manning threw one touchdown and seven interceptions those three games, ESPN Stats & Info reports. Also, under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 10-7 in games when the temperature is under 40 degrees.
Do these numbers spell doom for Denver? No, not necessarily. Remember, all three of those playoff losses were on the road. Winning on the road is difficult in any condition. Also, Manning proved he can play win in chilly weather in Denver’s last two games, both at home, to Cleveland and Kansas City. Now, he needs to show it in the postseason.
So, while Manning’s cold-weather playoff record is, in fact, not good, the circumstances are different this year. But the only way Manning can prove he can win a cold-weather game in the postseason is to do it, and his chance is Saturday.