After consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins, and a daunting matchup looming against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens are on the verge of losing three-straight games for the first time since the 2009 season.
After an overtime loss to the Redskins last week, Baltimore fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. With Manning and the Broncos traveling to Baltimore on Sunday, Caldwell, the former coach of Manning, will make his play-calling debut against his former pupil.
While Baltimore has struggled as of late, Denver has been red hot, wining eight-straight games. Led by Manning, who is in line to win his fifth MVP award, and Von Miller on the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos may be as complete of a team as there is in the NFL right now.
Averaging 390.1 yards a game, the Broncos have transformed into one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensive units. On the other hand, Baltimore has dealt with countless amounts of injuries on defense. Starting linebacker Jameel McClain has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game, and Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs appear to be game-time decisions.
Denver has already locked up a playoff berth and Baltimore can earn one as well this week with a win and help from other teams.
Here is one bold prediction for each team in Sunday’s game.
Joe Flacco throws 40 passes
At the beginning of the season, Baltimore implemented the no-huddle offense because it was thought to better suit Flacco’s skill set. The offense scored at least 23 points in each of their first four games; however, Cameron inexplicably put the no-huddle on the back burner.
Flacco has shown this season that he's the best when playing in an up-tempo offense. When playing in Cameron’s laid-back style of offense, Flacco struggled with his consistency and looked like a completely different quarterback.
With Caldwell, a proponent of the up-temp offense, calling the shots the rest of the year, Flacco will be in a position to flourish. In addition, Denver enters Baltimore with an offense that can score points in bunches, meaning Flacco will have to keep pace with Manning – forcing Caldwell to let his signal-caller unleash a number of throws Sunday.
More than likely, Baltimore will be playing from behind much of the game, giving Flacco an opportunity to make a statement and lead his team to victory in a game which has Super Bowl aspirations.
Knowshon Moreno rushes for 100 yards
Drafted 12th overall in 2009, Knowshon Moreno has battled injuries for much of his career, which have hampered him from reaching the potential he flashed at the University of Georgia.
During his first two years in Denver, Moreno rushed for over 1,700 yards and 12 scores, and added 65 receptions and five touchdowns. With Willis McGahee out for the rest of the season, Moreno has emerged as another weapon in Denver’s explosive offense.
Since taking over as Denver’s feature back three weeks ago, Moreno has averaged 91 rushing yards per game. On Sunday, Baltimore could possibly be without their top-three linebackers.
The Ravens will surely be paying close attention to Manning, which will open up running lanes for Moreno. Rushing for 100 yards on Baltimore’s defense used to be nearly impossible, but this year the Ravens have allowed three running backs to reach the century mark. In addition, four other backs have run for at least 90 yards.
Look for Moreno to become the fourth running back to rush for over 100 against Baltimore this season.