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Ravens Present Denver 1st Real Test

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How did the first quarter mark of the season sneak up on us so fast? And how many of you just read that and smugly said “well there’s seventeen games now, so it’s not the quarter mark, technically…”  and how many others said “it’s quarter pole, not quarter mark” while also not realizing that the quarter pole indicates a quarter left, which would be game 12… but you get it: we’re out of the appetizer phase of the 2021 NFL season and just starting to sink our teeth into the meat of the schedule for the Ravens.

Let’s do this 2MD thing, shall we?                                                                 

About Last Week…

Ravens 19 Lions 17

Listen, it wasn’t a sexy game by any stretch of the imagination…

Or was it?

Everybody seemed to crush the Ravens offense last Sunday, pointing out how they couldn’t score at ease like Green Bay and San Francisco had against the porous Lions defense, but nobody applauded the Ravens’ half-staffed defense that managed to do quite a number to the Lions offense for the majority of the game. Here’s a quick glimpse of what Wink’s defense was able to pull off on Sunday:

  1. 17 points allowed (fewest points scored this season by Detroit)
  2. 285 total yards allowed (fewest again)
  3. 192 pass yards allowed (again, fewest)
  4. 93 rush yards allowed (you get the point)

Considering the Ravens defense was without starters Marcus Peters, Justin Houston, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, and Justin Madubuike, only had three and a half outside linebackers (Pernell McPhee with a bum shoulder) and then lost Daelin Hayes on top of that, while also losing DeShon Elliott to a quad injury mid-game and facing a Lions offense that had a knack for late game heroics (they scored 19 of their 50 points in the final five minutes of the previous two games)?

That’s not too shabby for the Ravens defense.

A historic moment by Justin Tucker carried Baltimore to a 19-17 victory, a 2-1 record, and we’re on to the Broncos!

This Week: Ravens @ Broncos (-1.0)

Sunday 10/3 @ 4:25pm on CBS

If last week’s theme was “never overlook any opponent,” perhaps this week’s theme should be “records and stats can be deceiving.” How that mentality applies to the undefeated Broncos is pretty obvious:

Is Denver 3-0? Yes.

Have they beaten three teams with a collective record of 0-9? Also, yes.

Is the Broncos defense good? Absolutely.

Is it realistic to say that facing Danny Dimes and a pair of rookie QBs in Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence is going to boost that defense’s stats? Most certainly.

Offensively, is Teddy Bridgewater thriving? He surely is.

Have the Broncos also been held to 26 points or less in each game against middling defenses? This is also true.

So with a team like Denver, the context really helps. They’ve beaten three of the worst teams in the NFL, padded some stats early on, and I think it’s safe to say Baltimore is their first ‘true’ test in 2021.

And of course, we can’t move on without discussing the injury front because that certainly could factor in, as Baltimore is getting back several key players, while Denver looks to be without several of their starters, including K.J. Hamler, Graham Glasnow, Dalton Risner, Jerry Jeudy, and Bradley Chubb.

For once, Baltimore might have the slightly healthier team.

Weird, but I’ll take it.

Prediction!

Lamar Jackson’s back is fine and so are Hollywood Brown’s hands, as he remains Lamar’s favorite target, and racks up another seven receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown in this game. NO DROPS!

I also expect a Ty’Son Williams revival on Sunday in Denver. Not only will Williams find his way back to a notable carry share, but he’ll tack on a few big play receptions, and end the day with 120 total yards with a receiving and rushing score on the day.

Denver’s offense will find some daylight, but the loss of both starting guards will prove costly, as the pass rush for Baltimore tees off and finally finds more than a sack or two, as they take down Teddy for a trio of losses on the day.

Jimmy Smith covers Noah Fant like glue and Teddy’s air game will be held to just 250 yards passing, one touchdown and two turnovers (fumble, pick). Both touchdowns come at the hands of rookie RB Javonte Williams.

Also, no new record for Tucker. Sorry, man.

Ravens 30 Broncos 20

Best of the Rest

The 4 pm time slot is the hot window this week with some fantastic games… that we won’t be watching as we’ll be watching the Ravens buck the Broncos. Alas, here’s the best of the 1 pm slot, and some exciting prime time games to follow.

Panthers @ Cowboys (-4.5) 1pm.

Dallas being a favorite on the road against a 3-0 team has me pulling hard for Sam Darnold on Sunday.

Browns (-2.0) @ Vikes. 1pm.

I’d love to see Kirk Cousins ask the Browns “you like that?!” after sending them packing.

Bucs (-7.0) @ Patriots SNF.

Brady returns to New England. The hoodie versus TB12 & Gronk. Must watch TV.

Raiders @ Bolts (-3.0) MNF.

This is just one helluva matchup. Lots of fantasy points to be had in this one for sure.

Random Ravens Thought

I feel like the Top-5 Rank Em section of the 2MD has run its course and it’s time to explore a new path. Fortunately for you, I have a mind that runs strictly on tangents and random facts, so this final section of the 2MD will now become just that: a random thought.

I had previously touched on synergy, and how the Ravens are starting to jell, not only within their respective sides of the ball, but also within each unit. No stat can show this more that the changes in the defense over three weeks as the totals for opponents have steadily dropped:

  1. Total yards allowed: 491… 405… 285
  2. Pass yards allowed: 409… 343… 192
  3. Yards per carry allowed: 3.9… 3.4… 3.4
  4. 3rd Down Conversions allowed: 54%… 17%… 30%

Okay so that last one was up a tick but still notably better than Week 1. You also have to consider that the Ravens have been able to keep every team under 100 total rushing yards thus far, and that despite having a ‘lesser’ opponent in Week 3? The Ravens defense played without a litany of starters and role players on the defensive line and at outside linebacker that surely affected the game as well.

Here’s to hoping these trends continue on Sunday in Denver!

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