Previewing Baltimore Ravens ahead of matchup with Broncos

Joe Flacco. Credit: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports.
Joe Flacco. Credit: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports.

The Broncos are feeling good after starting the season 2-0 for the sixth straight season, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Although, Denver faces a tough opponent in the Baltimore Ravens this week and for the first time this season they will be underdogs. The Ravens also appear to be the first team the Broncos will play to have playoff aspirations this season, considering the current state of both the Seahawks and Raiders.

Let’s take a look at how the Broncos stack up against Baltimore.

Ravens strengths:

Entering the 2018 season Joe Flacco was on the hot seat. Ever since his 2012 Super Bowl campaign and subsequent contract extension, Flacco has sunk to the bottom third of NFL quarterbacks as his passer rating has declined from 86.2 to 82.2. The Ravens’ first round investment in Lamar Jackson only adds to the heat already on Flacco.

However, as his 10-5 playoff record suggests the incumbent starter performs best under pressure and he is looking better than ever. Armed with new weapons Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown, and a pre-existing running game headlined by Alex Collins, Flacco has the best supporting cast he’s had in years. His passer rating of 93.5 is just .1 point shy of his 93.6 career-best, and he’s on pace to throw for 4,500 yards for the first time in his career.

Baltimore also has one of the nastier defenses in the league which has become a staple for the Ravens. They currently rank second in the NFL in yards allowed, third in passing yards allowed and sixth in points allowed.

The leaders of their defense are the front seven lead by Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley. It’s amazing that Suggs is not only playing in the league in his 16th season, but is performing as a very effective pass rusher as well. Mosley is questionable for the game on Sunday, but if he plays, the Broncos may be in trouble. When healthy, Mosley is one of the best linebackers in the league and could slow down Denver’s running backs through the air, as well as, on the ground.

Ravens weaknesses:

As good as the Ravens’ defense is, their secondary is full of holes. Their best cornerback, Jimmy Smith, is suspended for “improper conduct” with his girlfriend, Anthony Averett is out as well, and it appears that age is finally catching up with former All-Pro Eric Weddle.

The Bengals were able to torch the Ravens multiple times, who had no answer for A.J. Green. Green had a career night catching five passes for 69 yards and three touchdowns. Watch for the Broncos’ receiving weapons to have an excellent game as well.

Unlike Denver, the Ravens don’t have great weapons in the passing game. Yes, Crabtree, Snead, and Brown make up the best cast of receivers Flacco has had in a while but they still aren’t a superb cast. None of the Baltimore receivers are a true No. 1 receiver.

Compare that to the Raiders last week who had Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant who all have No. 1 receiver talent, and the Broncos secondary should be in for an easier game than they were last week.

Week 3’s game against Baltimore will be the first true test for the Broncos and it could prove to be an important matchup for the wild card race later in the season. Denver looks much improved from last season but hasn’t faced a real contender yet, so it’s hard to tell if they’re for real. Sunday’s game should help clear that up.

Denver (2-0) faces Baltimore (1-1) at 11 a.m. MST Sunday.

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