When I look at the matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, there seem to be several mismatches waiting to be exploited by the Giants. The Ravens are a tough team to face, but perhaps more so in the past than today, as the Ravens have been vulnerable to the pass in recent games. They also miss Rex Ryan more than many thought they would. The Ravens are a team built to apply pressure and take advantage of the mistakes that said pressure forces other teams to make.
However, in this young season the Ravens have not yet applied the desired pressure on opposing offenses, furthermore they have not been as creative in their blitz packages, which is a clear sign of a team missing their former coordinator.
I have broken down this game into four matchups that could very well decide the outcome of this game.
Ravens ground game vs Broncos run D
The Ravens boast a very good and efficient run game, with a one-two punch composed of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. The Ravens will pin the 10th ranked rushing attack against the 3rd best rushing defense. While the ground game does not seem to be the focal point of Baltimore's offense anymore, it is definitely a crucial part of their attack.
Rice and McGahee each bring something special to the table and they certainly have very different running styles. They also bring a line very similar to the Cowboys, they are big and strong but not the most athletic group in the world. When pitted against a Broncos defensive front that is very athletic but not as big the Ravens, Oline should come away with some success. All in all, this is a matchup to watch and is one area where the Broncos face a disadvantage.
Broncos ground attack vs Ravens run D
This is an interesting matchup for me. While the Broncos do bring the 7th best ground game in the league, they will face the 7th best rush defense in the league. The Ravens streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher was broken, and since then they have slowed a bit. Denver's one-two punch bears some similarity to that of the Ravens with the different styles and their versatility.
Denvers' offensive line is among the very best, if not the best in the league and they have helped the Broncos develop a very efficient ground game. I believe that the new streak for the Ravens continues as their aging defense continues to miss Ryan and the Broncos hit them up foe 100+ yards in the match up.
Ravens newfound pass attack vs the Broncos veteran secondary
While it might be cheek to say that Baltimore's passing attack has developed and turn the corner, they are still very much unimpressive to me. Mason, Clayton, and Heap do not present an elite core of receivers to threaten the Broncos secondary. While the O line has been good in pass protection, they are far from impregnable and Flacco's mobility does help, when it comes to getting to the QB the Broncos hold a decisive advantage.
What the Broncos need to watch out for, once again, is the screen game. Ray Rice has shown a knack for taking screen and short passes and turning them into huge gain, when you add Denver's aggresive style of defense this could be a problem. All that said, I think the Broncos veteran leadership in the secondary will be a major asset.
Broncos spread vs Ed Reed (basically)
When the Broncos lineup to pass the ball there is one man that has to be accounted for at all times, that man is Ed Reed. Baltimore has chosen to go the young route this off season when they addressed their secondary, it might prove to be a very wise choice in the future but not this season. The Ravens pass defense is ranked at a very pedestrian 23rd in the league and while the Broncos are not very impressive at number 12th, they have been getting better with each passing week.
Kyle Orton has been very careful with the ball whenever he has dropped back to pass, but the more time Orton and his weapons spend together, the more dangerous they become. When you look at weapons like Marshall, Royal, Gaffney, Scheffler, and Stokely against a very young and inexperienced secondary, you see some serious mismatches. The one man that does have to be accounted for at all times is Reed, he can and will cause serious problems for Orton and company if he is not accounted for.
This matchup is one that the Broncos should exploit and handle with ease. I believe that this week is one that the Broncos show a more cohesive and potent offense.
I have never been one for predictions and I will not start now, but I will say that while most people seem to be under the impression that the Ravens will win this game I say the the Broncos keep the perfect record after this week.