Denver Broncos (10-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012
M&T Bank Stadium
The Ravens come off a bad loss to the Washington Redskins and find themselves home to face a formidable opponent, the Denver Broncos. After losing two in a row, Coach Harbaugh fired his offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who had been under much scrutiny for the past few years. The move was seen a risk, some say desperate by the organization. Yet, it was just a matter of time, in fact, it was probably the (insurance) plan when the team signed Caldwell as the QB coach this season.
The Broncos signed QB Peyton Manning in the offseason and he has his offense firing on all cylinders. The unit ranks, 3rd in points scored (28.8), 6th in pass yards (284.0) and 20th in rushing (106.1).
On defense led by LB Von Miller (16 sacks), the front seven is tough to defend. Broncos rank 7th versus the pass (215) and 6th versus the run (93.7). They have 39 sacks and 15 interceptions. Overall the unit ranks 4th in the NFL.
CHALK IT UP/KEY MATCH-UPS:
Ravens O-line vs. LB Von Miller & Elvis Dumervile
The last two games Flacco has been blind sided for a strip sack/fumble which just kills the offensive’s momentum and puts the defense in a horrible spot. LB Miller is all over the field and causes havoc. This match-up is going to be about keeping Denver’s linebacker out of the Ravens backfield. It will also be up to LT Michael Oher to protect the blind side. DE Dumervil (8 sacks & 6 forced fumbles) has great leverage and speed off the edge. Key Injury: Right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle).
Joe Flacco/Ray Rice vs. Denver’s 4-3:
This is going to be an interesting game. Jim Caldwell takes over calling the plays. Will we see more uptempo/no-huddle? Flacco is better statistically in the no-huddle. QB Joe Flacco needs to step up beside just an improvement in the play-calling. We should see a steady diet of Ray Rice. There has been at least 7 games this year where Rice has had less than 20 carries. What we might see with Caldwell: Besides more carries for Rice, getting Rice in open space; screens, out in the flat. And: More play-action, with roll-outs and boot-legs.
Ravens Defense vs. QB Peyton Manning:
This match-up comes down to the Ravens getting to Peyton Manning. It’s going to be a tough task with all the injuries to the Ravens defense. The Ravens are at home which gives them a little edge because of the noise factor. The fact is, this is one of the toughest QB’s the team has faced this year in terms of how Manning can read and pick apart defenses. Simply, the defensive front must apply pressure to Manning. Key: OLB Paul Kruger (8 sacks) vs. LT Ryan Clady is going to be one match-up to watch.
Ravens Secondary vs. WR Demaryius Thomas:
One disturbing trend is that the Ravens secondary have given up yards passing late in games. They also have given up three touchdowns to receivers in three games (2 against Washington). CB Cary Williams has stepped up his game, yet Thomas (8 TD’s, 74 rec.) is a big physical wideout and could pose problems for the Ravens.