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Underdog Ravens Using Snubs As Fuel


Cary Williams doesn't have to go far to hear who's going to win Saturday's game in Denver.

"You see it everywhere," the cornerback said. "Every time you turn on the [darn] TV you see somebody talking about the Broncos and the Patriots in the AFC championship game. It's great."

Williams is sort of being sarcastic when he says it's "great." He was more than a bit feisty when talking about how the Broncos are heavy 9 ½ point favorites.

But Williams and the Ravens are using the snub as fuel heading into the divisional round. Williams said they talk about it all the time.

"That's fine. We appreciate it. We love that," he said. "People are counting us out. We like that. We love being the underdog. You get to go out there and prove people wrong."

Typically, media prognosticators wait until late in the week to make their predictions for weekend games. But not this time.

At halftime of Sunday's game versus Indianapolis, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks tweeted, "From the looks of Colts-Ravens first half, we are watching two teams that won't be playing in the AFC title game, no matter who wins today."

ESPN's Ashley Fox wrote "Baltimore will have to short-circuit the MacBook [Peyton Manning] to have a chance at beating Denver next Saturday. … That's the only way – the only way – the Ravens can beat the Broncos in Denver in that altitude at that stadium."

On Tuesday, a Denver Post columnist wrote that Baltimore will suffer an emotional breakdown when the Broncos force Ray Lewis into retirement.

Lewis said he learned long ago not to put any stock in opinions. He recalled the 2000 Super Bowl year, saying the Ravens were never picked one time that entire season to win a game.

"Not one time," Lewis said. "But at the end of the day, we held the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champs. That alone taught me a valuable lesson, that nobody on the outside dictates how we play on the inside."

Williams got tired of being asked about Manning on Tuesday.

"It's the NFL. We play great quarterbacks, we play great wide receivers," Williams said. "It's great entertainment for people at home, but this week is a different mindset. … There's only so much that can be said. We've got to go out there and play. It goes down between the white lines. You could say I have a chip on my shoulder, yeah."

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who generally doesn't feed into all the media hype and predictions, even said there's a little bit of motivation to prove them wrong.

"It doesn't surprise me that nobody would really give us too much of a shot," Flacco said. "I mean, they beat us up pretty good a couple weeks ago. But I think you always have that little chip that you want to go out there and prove to people that you're a good football team."

The Ravens know the Broncos, winners of 11 straight games, are good. Head Coach John Harbaugh called them the hottest team in the league. Lewis called them arguably the NFL's best team.

"If that's what it is, then let's line up and let's be who we are, and let's get ready to play the best team in football," Lewis said.

But don't gift wrap a victory yet.

"Everybody has an opinion. Whatever that opinion is, let them have it," Lewis said. "One thing about it, the game has to be played. No matter what anybody says or [who] they feel is going to win, you have to play the game on [Saturday]."

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