A Denver Broncos Ferrari Offense Against a Baltimore Hummer Defense?
The Denver Broncos have a white horse logo on its helmet and the Ferrari has a prancing horse for its logo. So maybe this is a fitting analogy.
Then again maybe not. But let's look at these two teams and how they match up, Denver's O to Baltimore's D.
Denver is coming into this game as the number 1 passing offense in the NFL. And the 32nd ranked rushing attack.
The Ravens are ranked number 1 in pass defense and 21st in rushing defense. So I guess we will see Denver running the ball a lot, right? Right?
Actually what I see is a game of two very different styles and philosophies.
Denver is the fast and flashy Ferrari to Baltimore's workhorse Hummer. This is not a knock on the Ravens, just an observation on each team's approach to the game.
Broncos Ferrari-Like Passsing Game Meets Ravens Hummer Passing Defense
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When the number 1 passing team meets up with the number 1 passing defensive team, somethings gotta give.
Ray Lewis is the unquestioned Hummer team manager. He may have some miles on his drive-train but that drive-train still brings it on every play of every game.
He is the epitome of the rugged Hummer, digging for traction and knocking through any obstacle to get at the QB. He is also the spiritual leader of this team and it's heart and soul.
Lewis may be the visual and vocal leader but there is a lot more talent on this team to back him up.
Players like NT Haloti Ngata, all 6-4, 350 pounds of him. A true run stuffer but also is athletic enough to push the pocket back and get after the QB. He wasn't a former first round draft choice for nothing. He will test rookie C JD Walton early and often, forcing double teaming from either RG Chris Kuper or LG Stanley Daniels.
And let's not forget OLB Terrell Suggs, another first rounder who has 2.5 sacks so far this year. Between him, Ray Lewis, Jarrett Johnson and Jameel McClain, there may not be a better LB crew in the NFL right now. They are fast, big, nasty and LOVE to hit people.
If there is a possible chink in the defensive armor, it is the secondary. They are very good cover guys but only one of the starting four is 6 foot tall. This means Denver will have to use the size of its WRs and TE Graham to create mismatches.
The Denver Pit Crew That Makes The Ferrari Go
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Just like a great Formula 1 racing team, a football team needs a great pit crew to make things work. And Denver's offensive line is that pit crew. It is made up of a mixture of experience and youth that will continue to get better as it gains its health and improves the chemistry.
Even though it gave up six sacks last week, I see a better game from this group this week.
The Baltimore defensive front seven are a tough, nasty and formidable opponent. They have 14 sacks so far in 4 games but what strikes me as a critical stat is that those 14 sacks are attributed to 14 different people. That means you can not key on any one player or position as the entire defense brings it on each and every play.
But I think the keys will be whether LT Ryan Clady is close to 100%, health-wise and can take his man one-on-one to free up the TE for the outside LB or to run short pass routes. The other area of concern is the Center position where rookie JD Walton is playing. He is looking good for the most part, but he is still a rookie.
One thing is for certain, Orton will have to get the ball away quickly on most plays to survive a fiery crash on Sunday.
Kyle Orton: The Driver Of That Bronco Ferrari
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Orton is quickly amassing numbers that will not only beat Dan Marino's single season record of 5,064 yards, he would obliterate it with a projected 5,674 yards.
I know, it is WAY too early to be projecting these things but it is safe to say that Orton and company are off to a Ferrari-like ferocious start.
Like Michael Schumacher and the other great drivers for Ferrari, Orton has been given the keys to the McDaniels mobile and knows every nut, bolt, squeak and rattle in it.
And this is what makes him so effective. He can coax more out of this passing game than anyone else in a Denver uniform right now. And he is getting better with each game.
His abilities will be pushed to the limits against this Ravens defense and he better not double clutch or miss a shift or he and the Broncos will end up in the scrap yard.
Denver's WRs Will Have To Bring Their 'A' Game
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This means Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and Demarius Thomas have to step up on every play and make every catch. If Denver can't maintain drives with the short to intermediate passing game, it will be a long afternoon.
So far this season, there have not been many dropped passes by the WRs and that trend will have to continue this week. They will be harassed, bumped and pounded after the catch all game long.
As mentioned in a previous slide, the size factor may play to the Denver WR advantage. But Orton will have to be on target and be able to find the back shoulders, the occasional jump ball pass and MAYBE air it out, if he has the time and let Thomas or Royal outrun their CBs.
Also look for rookie WR Eric Decker to have some balls thrown at him. With his size and good hands, he can make a few plays across the middle or on quick out patterns.
Denver's Running Game (More a Walking Game) Meets The Ravens Rushing Defense
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When you are on a pace for 880 rushing yards for an entire season, you are an embarrassment to Terrell Davis and the great rushing history of Denver's glory days. In fact, Davis rushed for two and a half times that many yards all by himself in 1998.
If this type of performance continues, the patented Davis Mile High Salute (pictured) will turn into the Chuck Cecil one-fingered salute. And it will be coming from the fans to the team, not to the fans like Terrell's was.
Right now, whether Knowshon Moreno plays or not, due to a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's game, I am not sure that Moreno, Correll Buckhalter or Laurence Maroney can move the ball with any efficiency.
All that being said, I am not expecting a 100 yard rushing effort. I have given up on that outlandish desire. But could we see 50 yards? Please?
Anything to make the Ravens defense have a minimal amount of respect for the running game.
So Who Crosses The Finish Line First?
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I would love to say it will be the Prancing Horse of Ferrari, er, the white horse of Denver. And I do believe they have a good chance to pull this off with a Herculean effort on both sides of the football..
The Broncos are a 6.5 point underdog at this writing and Baltimore is a tough team anytime but especially at home.
But I will go out on a wing and a prayer and predict Denver 24, Baltimore 20.
Gentlemen, start your engines!