1. I don’t think we have any idea right now as to the true level of the 2010 Broncos any more than we could have guessed the level of the 2009 Broncos when they came to Baltimore undefeated.
2. The Ravens are probably the deepest team in the league in terms of corners, which is always a tough statement to defend. I’m not going to tell you that there top 2 are as good as Joseph/Hall, but the current 3rd-5th corners might be as good as the starters. All should be active tomorrow and the Ravens will probably play 65%+ nickel and dime while Greg Mattison’s unit will attempt to stop the run with 6. Whatever you believe about the quality of the opposing defenses Denver has faced to date, the Broncos have a different challenge.
3. I don’t believe Denver will be able to effectively rush the passer with 4 men. The outside matchups are, as usual, the key. Ayers has been schizophrenic as a pass rusher and registered just 1 pressure (no hits or sacks) in 25 pass rush attempts last week. Haggan has disappeared (1 pressure in 37 rushes) since recording 3 pressures in 5 pass rushes in week 1. Since they have done some of each, I’ll be interested to see whether they try to get Ayers on Oher or Yanda.
4. The Ravens have had solid success picking up the blitz all season and the Broncos are a team that needs to scheme for pressure. Last week against Tennessee, the Broncos rushed 3 twice, 4 twelve times, 5 nine times, 6 eight times, and 7 one time. Their pressure came from Brian Dawkins who had a sack and a pressure. DJ Williams also registered a very slow developing sack when Young had tucked the ball to run. If this is another game where Flacco can have ample time and space on 55-60% of passes, he should have many plays where he is able to select from more than 1 receiver in man coverage.
5. The Ravens are 3-1 despite losing the TO battle each week. That said this is a week where the Ravens will need to cause havoc with tips at the line of scrimmage and in the center of the field. Ray Lewis has limited man-to-man coverage skills at this point, but there isn’t anyone better at reading the QB’s eyes as he showed with a batted pass and the game-sealing INT last week at Pittsburgh.