Can the Ravens move to (2-1) when the Denver Broncos (2-0) come to town on Sunday?
The RSR staff predicts what we’ll see here…
• During their loss to the Bengals in Week 2, the Ravens offense struggled on first down. In fact, their first seven 1st-down attempts produced NEGATIVE 13 yards. That forced them into predictable passing situations and in a blink of an eye, they were down 21-0. Look for Joe Flacco to use the short passing game to try to set up the run early and help open the Ravens playbook. He’ll throw the ball on five of the team’s first seven 1st-down attempts, producing 40 yards and paving the way to an early lead.
• Alex Collins will still struggle to get untracked. He’ll run it less than 15 times and finish with less than 50 yards. Three of his attempts will produce 0 yards or less. He will however, take a screen pass for a gain of 25+.
• Von Miller has failed to register a sack against four teams during his 8-year career during the regular season. (He did have a 1/2 sack during the Mile High Miracle game.) One of those teams is the Ravens. That will NOT change on Sunday, BUT…resources allocated to neutralize Miller will leave the left flank vulnerable. That will make things inviting for rookie edge rusher Bradley Chubb who has a ½ sack so far in two games. He’ll get 2 sacks on Sunday while embarrassing Ronnie Stanley. Stanley will be out of the game by halftime. His sore arm will be blamed. During one of Chubb’s sacks, he’ll lift Flacco and take him down more violently than Clay Matthews did last week in Green Bay to Kirk Cousins. But this time, no flag will be thrown which triggers a BS chant from the fans.
• Emmanuel Sanders is averaging 115 yards receiving so far through two games. He’ll get to the mark again, thanks to a chunk play of 50+ yards on a short crosser that leads to 40+ yards of YAC.
• In two games the Broncos have racked up 314 yards of offense on the ground, averaging 5.2 YPC. The Ravens will cut their average in half, limiting the ground attack to just 78 yards. Phillip Lindsay will score the Broncos’ only TD on a 16-yard scamper.
• Both Ravens TDs come from inside the 5-yard line and both will be passes to tight ends, Maxx Williams and Mark Andrews, respectively. Andrews’ score will follow a fourth quarter turnover and break a 13-13 tie, thanks to a Tim Williams strip sack of Case Keenum.
FINAL: Ravens 20, Broncos 13
— The Ravens will commit to running the ball, allowing Alex Collins and Buck Allen to COMBINE for at least 130 yards. Collins will have the opportunity score from short yardage.
— The Broncos will focus on shutting down the Ravens tight ends to force Flacco to throw downfield, where he makes most of his mistakes. However, John Brown and Michael Crabtree are capable of making plays on the ball. The Broncos will get their turnover, but Flacco will also make a couple of big plays.
— Von Miller will keep the Ravens from putting up big points and he will be a mismatch for the offensive line. Hence, the importance of running the ball to take some of the pressure off Flacco.
— The Ravens secondary will have a bounce-back game and force Case Keenum to make a couple of critical mistakes.
— Denver rookie running back Phillip Lindsay will have his “Welcome to the NFL” moment and be held to fewer than 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time in three games.
FINAL: Ravens 24, Broncos 17
Some are concerned about the Ravens this week facing a 2-0 Bronco team coupled with the less then stellar performance against the Bengals last Thursday. However, I am not among them.
The two reason are: the Ravens are a completely different team at home, especially with 10 days’ rest, and the Broncos have not exactly been world beaters. They needed a late 4th quarter drive to put away the Seahawks in Week 1 and were completely shut out last week against the Raiders and needed a 10-point 4th quarter to pull that game out. Did I mention both those games were in Denver and neither Seattle or Oakland’s defense are what you would call scary? While Case Keenum is a better then average QB, he has been turnover prone thus far, throwing four picks in two games. All that together makes me feel this game may be close for a while, but no fan should lose much sleep over this game. Here are some things I expect to see Sunday:
— The Broncos defense has given up seven passing plays of 20 or more yards, which screams to me a big day for John Brown. I think we see the first 100-yard receiving game from a Raven this year from Brown who will go five for 110 and a TD.
— Flacco will pass for over 300 yards with 3 TD, one to Brown as mentioned above, followed by tosses to Mark Andrews and Buck Allen.
— Don’t expect to see much from Alex Collins. I project that for the third week in a row he gets less then 10 carries and Allen finishes as the more productive back in rushing and receiving.
— The defense will struggle containing Emmanunel Sanders, as Wink will have trouble comprehending that Marlon Humphrey should shadow him all day. Sanders will have about 80 yards receiving and a TD.
— The ‘fantasy football darling’ Phillip Lindsey will be brought back to reality this week as the Ravens defense will hold him to under 50 yards rushing.
— Keenum throws two picks, one to Eric Weddle and the other to Kenny Young who gets his first career INT. He will also get sacked four times, one each from Terrell Suggs, Tim Williams, Matt Judon and Brent Urban.
FINAL: Ravens 31 Broncos 20
I’d much rather be facing the pass rush duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb sooner than later. Chubb won’t necessarily be an easy task but it may take some time to adjust to the NFL until he really starts to feast on quarterbacks. Miller hasn’t registered a sack on the Ravens in the two games he has played against them. If Stanley is healthy the Ravens should be fine; if this elbow injury is a little more serious than Harbaugh has led on there could be some issues handling Miller.
Count me among the people that believe the Ravens are closer to the Week 1 team than the Week 2 version. The Bengals have typically always given the Ravens problems with rare exceptions such as last year’s shutout in Week 1. I think in large part C.J. Mosley going out early in the game had a lot to do with the defensive collapse. There are no excuses for Flacco other than Paul Brown stadium is not a place where he has many fond memories.
Alex Collins looked good last game but starting the game so far behind so quickly didn’t allow the Ravens to get many opportunities to run the ball. I think this week Collins and the run game gets back on track. John Brown will continue to be the poor man’s Antonio Brown that I have called him since before the season started. Just in case you are wondering, he has two touchdowns to Antonio’s one currently and he’s costing the Ravens less than a third of Antonio’s salary. I think the ball will get spread around but Brown is going to be the Ravens star this season.
The defense won’t have the performance it did in Week 1, but they will hold Denver to 10 points. Last week after being humbled they come out hungry at home on a mission. I predict three sacks and two turnovers and one of them being an interception by Eric Weddle.
FINAL: Ravens 20 Broncos 10
You have to hope that the defensive meltdown versus the Bengals was the product of losing Mosley early in the game. After the Ravens were able to regroup at halftime, the last thirty minutes took had a much different feel.
With that said it would be a shock if Mosley plays. Combine that with Jimmy Smith’s suspension and you’re missing arguably your best two defenders.
The Broncos have a serviceable quarterback and a good arsenal of weapons. Even with it at home this game has me concerned.
Now that the Ravens have gone through their normal early season “we have to run the ball better” routine, expect a heavy dose of the ground game. AC and Buck Allen combine for over 30 touches but produce less than 120 yards.
Now that Flacco has regressed back to the mean, expect a mixed bag like last week.
He’ll throw for around 250 yards with a couple touchdowns and a couple picks.
FINAL: Broncos 24 Ravens 20
**Warning: Reckless and Bold Predictions ahead**
You were warned! Week 3 is here and so are my reckless takes for this upcoming game. The Ravens, smarting after being embarrassed in a prime time slot, come out hot. The defense, recovered from the shock of losing their leader, plays lights out. Chris Board and Kenny Young switch off playing next to Patrick Onwusaor and keep the pressure on a injury-hampered Keenum, who throws several interceptions before being spelled by Chad Kelly, who is immediately pressured and also throws some interceptions. At the half, Wink Martindale smiles around the locker room and dials up even more pressure finally utilizing Tim Williams, who racks up at least two sacks in the second half.
Offensively, the Ravens return to form and establish the run game and employ some sneaky run-pass-options to slow the Bronco’s vaunted pass rush. Collins explodes for his first one hundred yard game of the season, as Smokey Brown embarrasses the weak Denver secondary for over one hundred yards. Justin Tucker adds a few long field goals for good measure and the offensive line bounces back against a good Denver front.
FINAL: Ravens 30 Broncos 20
Sure, Denver is 2-0. However, both of those games were in the comfy confines of Mile High, both required last-minute heroics, and both came against teams yet to win a game (Seattle and Oakland are a combined 0-4). Yes, I realize that the Ravens’ only win was against the terrible Bills as well. Still, I like my squad in this one.
Denver has played in Baltimore six times since the Ravens came into existence. The Broncos’ lone win in those six was with Peyton Manning at the helm. You remember. This game:
Keenum is no Pey Pey, to put it mildly.
How do you know fall is here? Not by the leaves falling. No, by my favorite annual tradition: Ravens fans screaming for the team to get back to the running game.
Unfortunately, Denver isn’t the team against whom to do that. They’re sixth in the league in rushing defense, but 21st in passing defense, and they’ve allowed an opposing QB rating of 109. Miller and Chubb are likely to get theirs, but that Broncos secondary can still be had.
I picked up Flacco for my fantasy team this week. I’m going up against Collins. I feel just about as good about that matchup as I do the actual one going on at M&T Bank Stadium.
FINAL: Ravens 27 Broncos 16
The Broncos pass rush is going to cause nightmares for the Ravens. This might be the deepest pass rush group in the league, boasting the likes of Shaquil Barrett, Bradley Chubb and Von Miller (I’m terrified of the last name). The other day Ryan Mink tweeted that Miller has never gotten a sack against the Ravens in his career, but that’ll change on Sunday after he earns himself a three-sack performance. Flacco is going to be under duress the entire game.
— At some point in the first quarter, I expect Joe Flacco to throw one of his signature “WTF were you thinking” interceptions while rolling out and under-throwing John Brown downfield. With Ronnie Stanley nursing an elbow injury and James Hurst still on the field, Flacco has to find a way to get the ball out quickly. I expect checkdowns to Buck Allen will be a recurring theme. But on the flipside, the Broncos also have a special checkdown weapon in Phillip Lindsay, who has looked very impressive after the catch. He’ll likely have a couple of big plays and perhaps a red zone TD.
— The Ravens run game will regain its identity as Alex Collins has a rebound performance. The Broncos run defense has looked strong and their 3.6 YPC allowed ranks 9th in the league over two weeks. But I still expect Collins to see plenty of looks, as the team can’t be happy with how the run game was abandoned so early last week. Collins will rush for over 75 yards and score a TD, but his best play will come off a 20+ yard catch and run that will involve various “broken” ankles.
— You can tell the defense played like they were in shock against the Bengals after potentially losing C.J. Mosley for the season. The middle of the field was completely vulnerable and first down runs were being allowed that aren’t typical of the Ravens. But I expect the Ravens run defense to have a much stronger game after having week to prepare without their leader. Brent Urban and Michael Pierce will have big games. Fantasy owners will regret starting Royce Freeman. And after one game under his belt, Kenny Young will be in the backfield stopping runs all day and will post another massive game.
FINAL: Ravens win a nail-biter, 27-20
The big concern this week has got to be the offensive line. When you’re struggling to get the run game going (their 91.5 rushing YPG ranks 23rd), and playing a defense that only allows 78 rushing yards per game, it doesn’t exactly instill confidence that things will get better this week.
Add on top of that the fact that, as of right now, James Hurst will be lining up against Von Miller for about 45 pass attempts, and you expect Joe to be once again running for his life.
The good news is that Aqib Talib is no longer in Denver, and if Joe can somehow find a little bit of time to get a pass off, there’s passing yards to be had. Denver’s 261.5 passing YPG allowed ranks 22nd in the NFL.
My confidence defensively is slightly higher, but not where I thought it’d be entering Week 3. Denver surprisingly ranks 4th in the NFL in total YPG, thanks mainly to undrafted Rookie FA RB Phillip Lindsay, whose 178 rushing yards ranks 4th in the NFL, and who has helped earn the Broncos the 2nd ranked rushing attack with 157 rushing YPG.
If the Ravens are gonna win, it will be because they got back to form defensively and were able to slow down Lindsay/Freeman and force a couple turnovers, setting up short fields.
FINAL: Ravens lose, 17-13
The more I look at this matchup, the more I see two very similar teams, and I’m expecting a close game coming down to the wire.
— Marty finally rights the ship on offense and focuses on the ground game. 20 total touches for Alex Collins for a net 120 yards and a touchdown.
— The defense struggles to get to Keenum and records back-to-back sackless weeks. Gross.
— Luckily for the D and their lack of pressure, the secondary comes up big with a pair of picks (Humphrey, Weddle), both in the red zone.
— Smokey Brown once again shines with a 6/95/1 Line.
— A nail bitter tie game at 17-17 ends with late heroics by the Ravens offense and a final-minute touchdown (Flacco to Andrews) to seal the W.
FINAL: BAL 24 DEN 17
— The spate of injuries (Stanley, Judon, Mosley, Pierce) is concerning. We don’t have anything concrete on severity, but this could be a step-up game for Orlando Brown, Tyus Bowser, Kenny Young, and Patrick Ricard.
— The Ravens’ best bet is a power run game to tire down some of the Broncos edge defenders. Brown (I expect) will need to lean on Miller when he can get his hands on him (particularly in the run game).
— The Ravens will mercilessly chip block versus both edges. Collins, in particular, has delivered some impressive chips in each of the first 2 games.
— Above all, the Ravens need to hold off the 4-man rush and force the Broncos to rush numbers to get pressure.
— When he does have time to throw, Flacco is facing a banged up secondary including both Bradley Robey and Pacman Jones. There will be opportunities. We just don’t want 55 of them.
FINAL: Ravens 19 Broncos 13