As the Denver Broncos put their perfect 3-0 record on the line today against a tough Baltimore Ravens (2-1), the home team is hurting mightily.
Luckily for Denver, Baltimore has their fair share of injuries as well.
But, according to Adam Schefter, the Broncos will be without both starting guards on the offensive line in Graham Glasgow and Dalton Risner today. Glasgow has a knee injury and Risner is out due to an ailing ankle. That means second-year man Netane Muti will play right guard and rookie Quinn Meinerz will play left guard.
It’s a tough break because the Ravens are adept at stopping the run, ranking eighth in the NFL in terms of yards allowed (237). On top of that, the Broncos offensive line has protected Teddy Bridgewater well and the young guys will have their hands full with Pernell McPhee and Denver native Calais Campbell.
The injuries don’t stop there for the Broncos, though. Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are on the IR, hurting Denver’s wide receiving depth. Other starters on the Injured Reserve include outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, linebacker Josey Jewell and cornerback Ronald Darby.
Luckily for the Broncos, Tim Patrick started stepping up last season with injuries at wideout, and he’s continued to do just that this year, with touchdowns in back-to-back weeks.
Similarly, the team’s depth has helped not only keep Denver alive, but as one of the best defenses in the NFL. Currently, with a handful of backups playing, the Broncos have allowed an NFL-best 8.7 points per game and a second-fewest yards to opponents.
Of course, that’s been against three of the worst teams in the NFL.
This week, a brilliant Baltimore offense comes to town, led by a banged up Lamar Jackson. Jackson didn’t practice this week with pain in his back, which means the explosive playmaker could be slowed down a bit. But, the Broncos better not bet on it.
Jackson’s thrown for 761 yards and 3 touchdowns this year, and he leads the team with 251 yards on the ground for 2 more scores. His one weakness is turnovers; he’s tossed 3 INTs and lost 2 fumbles on the season.
Luckily for Jackson, he’s expected to get back receivers Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin off the IR and have them available today. Still, the Ravens have lost two starting running backs and star cornerback Marcus Peters to season-ending injuries; it’s a battle of two somewhat beleaguered teams in the league.
And yet, they’re two of the better teams in the AFC, too.
For the Broncos, this will undoubtedly be the toughest test of the young season. If Denver can win this pick-em contest at home, with a ton of injuries, it will be a big-time confidence boost going forward.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. MT today on CBS.