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Broncos v. Ravens Preview

The boys are back in action on Sunday! They take on the Ravens in Baltimore, a city that has an “us against the world” attitude. The Ravens are 3-3 on the season with 2 of their losses coming against teams (Patriots, Bengals) that the Broncos have already handled. Beating this Ravens team is no easy chore though. Their offense has improved dramatically. While they’re not as strong on the defensive front, they are coming off of their bye week, so expect to see rested minds and bodies that are capable of beating the Broncos. Baltimore is a difficult place to play and the all-time regular season record between these two teams stands at 3-3. I’ve got confidence in my team s0 My Prediction: Broncos 24 Ravens 17.         

Offense

Broncos – Kyle Orton is a proven winner. His numbers don’t compare to Tom Brady’s or Drew Brees, but he brings the plane home each and every time. He has the highest 4th quarter QB rating (142.1) in the league and the best TD to INT ratio (9:1). The Broncos are ranked 7th in the rushing game and 12th in the passing game. The Ravens don’t have a solid pass defense, so this may be the time favor the pass a little bit more than the run. As we’ve seen from Josh McDaniels’ play calling in the first half, he’s got a nice balance, and when Orton does drop back, it’s usually a dump off pass for a short 7-8 yard pick up. It’s in the second half that Orton lets it fly a little more for larger gains. The Broncos have such a diverse group of receiving targets, each with their pros and cons, that this Ravens defense won’t be able to handle the likes of Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokely, and Tony Scheffler. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter who have had a few nagging injuries will be full strength again to help the rushing game.   

Ravens- Chalk up the improvement in the Ravens offense to 2nd year QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice. Rice leads his team in rushing and is 2nd in receiving yards. The Ravens are 10th in rushing and 8th in passing. Credit the offensive line for allowing only about a sack per game. Flacco has 11 TDs, 5 INTs, and 3 fumbles on the season. Willis McGahee shares carrying duties with Rice, and he’s got 5 TDs on the season. Todd Heap, Mark Clayton, and Derrick Mason are the key targets for Flacco. Now it’s the Ravens offense that can win games for them instead of relying on their defense to do it. The Broncos defense has got their hands full, but at least they’ve got fresh legs to deal with this unfamiliar offensive firepower the Ravens have finally found.    

Defense

Broncos – Gone are the days when 17 points from the Ravens was a great offensive showing. The Broncos haven’t played a team that’s as balanced on both sides of the offensive ball. Joe Flacco is 6’6” so batting away his passes is almost impossible. The Broncos will need to continue to get to the QB and pressure him into poor decisions. If they can get to him, he’s prone to fumbling the ball. The Broncos are 3rd in rush defense and 8th in pass defense. This is the most deadly defensive team the Ravens have faced this year, so it should be interesting to see how Flacco handles that kind of pressure. Dr. Doom is still leading the league in sacks with 10 while D.J. Williams leads the team in tackles with 46 total. Andra Davis and Brian Dawkins have been on their game, and make big plays when it counts whether it’s forcing fumbles or producing the hard hits. The entire secondary is doing an incredible job getting deflections in the 2nd half.          

Ravens-  They’re not the popular group on the squad anymore. They rank 7th in rush defense and 23rd in pass defense. They did lose some key defensive guys from last year, but they still have Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, and Ray Lewis. Lewis leads the team in tackles (53 total) by a long shot while Trevor Pryce leads the team in sacks with 4. Dawan Landry and Reed both have 2 picks on the year with Reed returning one of his for a touchdown. As I said before, the Ravens defense isn’t deep enough to handle the Broncos receiving corp. With the Moreno-Buckhalter tandem in the backfield and a great blocking tight end in Daniel Graham, McD will continue to be creative with his play calling to throw the Ravens solid rush defense off kilter.   

Special Teams  

Broncos – Eddie Royal was the true spark two weeks ago returning a punt and a kickoff for TDs. He’s obviously capable of breaking through for big plays which would be great on Sunday to give the Broncos good field position. Keep an eye on new punter Mitch Berger who replaced Brett Kern over the bye week.    

Ravens-  Steven Hauschka handles kicking duties and is 5-7 on the year. He’s 1-3 from 40-49 yards out. Sam Koch is their punter and a fairly decent one at that. Of his 26 punts, he’s landed 6 inside the 10 yard line. Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb haven’t done anything special with the return game.  

Coaching

Broncos –  If you can believe it, some people are still calling the Broncos the “cute” story. McD is out to prove them wrong and show the league that this team is for real on the road. He only took one day off during the bye week to bring his family to the zoo, but other than that, he’s all football all the time.       

Ravens- John Harbaugh has revamped this Ravens team. Last year, in his head coaching debut, the Ravens went 11-5 and lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. In 2007, before Harbaugh arrived, the team went 5-11. He’s a good coach with a good defensive mind, so this season is a bit of a surprise to everyone following the Ravens.

*Note: I will be out of town for the weekend. I will try to post when I can, but no promises are made. Stay tuned AND – GO BRONCOS!!!

 

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Tags: Andra Davis Baltimore Ravens Brandon Marshall Brandon Stokley Brett Kern Brian Dawkins Chris Carr Correll Buckhalter D.j. Williams Dawan Landry Denver Broncos Derrick Mason Ed Reed Eddie Royal Joe Flacco Josh Harbaugh Josh Mcdaniels Knowshon Moreno Kyle Orton Lardarius Webb Mark Clayton Mitch Berger Ray Lewis Ray Rice Sam Koch Steven Hauschka Terrell Suggs Todd Heap Tony Scheffler Trevor Pryce Willis Mcgahee

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