|12-11-2005, 03:59 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2002
Ravens @ Broncos Preview
Format courtesy of Curt Fennell. Used with permission.
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GAME TIME: 2:15PM MST (2115 UDT) on Sunday, December 11th.
PLACE: The new Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado.
WEATHER FORECAST: The forecast calls for sunny, clear weather with highs
in the upper 40s. Winter in Colorado doesn't get any better than that.
FIELD CONDITIONS: The new Mile High Stadium has a grass field that should
be in very good shape for the game.
STANDINGS & STATS: The Broncos are 9-3 and are in first place in the AFC
West. The Ravens are 4-8 and are tied with Cleveland for last place in the
1. Denver's running game against Baltimore's run defense
There was a time not too long ago when the Broncos' running game matched
up very poorly against the Ravens' run defense. That time is not now. The
Ravens are soft at defensive tackle and their linebackers are too
aggressive and are frequently caught out of position when trying to play
run defense, which is absolute suicide against Denver's running game. No
team in the NFL takes advantage of poor discipline like the Broncos do,
and even well-coached teams make mistakes that result in consistent
yardage on the ground for Denver. Making things worse is the fact that Ray
Lewis is out for the year, so the Ravens don't even have the consolation
of having one out of three linebackers making the play. This is a huge,
huge problem on paper for Baltimore and they have to play much better gap
discipline if they want to keep the Broncos from getting huge yardage on
the ground. The Ravens do have the speed on defense, so if the players
make the right decisions, they have the ability to get to the ball
2. Baltimore's passing game versus Denver's pass defense
The Ravens did manage to win the game last week on the final drive of the
game, with Kyle Boller running the two-minute drill to set the Ravens up
for a field goal. While not exactly a breakout game, Boller did show some
competence at quarterbacking where the Ravens have had none with Anthony
Wright, who has taken the majority of the snaps this season for Baltimore.
Denver's defensive weakness is in pass defense, where the pass rush is
inconsistent and recently the Broncos have also had missed assignments in
the secondary, one of which resulted in a wide open Dante' Hall touchdown
last week. Derrick Mason and Todd Heap are the only viable targets for
Boller, but Mason will be lined up against Champ Bailey, so it will be
difficult for Boller to complete passes to him. This means he'll have to
look more at Todd Heap, who will likely see a combination of Nick Ferguson
and D.J. Williams on the coverage, neither of whom match up well against
Heap's size. Boller should expect to see blitzes throughout the game to
disrupt his rhythm and force him into making mistakes. Not helping is the
fact that there have been numerous injuries all along the offensive line,
and the athletic Denver defensive line is going to give the Ravens' pass
protectors a big challenge.
The Broncos have a defense that likes to force turnovers, and Boller will
have to be at his best in order to prevent Denver from getting easy points
and/or field position.
3. Baltimore's running game versus Denver's run defense
If a visiting team wants to win in Denver, they're going to have to run
the football. Jamal Lewis is averaging less than four yards per carry and
the offensive line is banged up. Chester Taylor will probably get the bulk
of the carries this week, as he's been more productive than Lewis, who
looks as if he's mailed in the season a long time ago. But Taylor has
played fairly well and although the offensive line has a poor matchup in
this area, this area is key in order to keep the pressure of Boller and
give his receivers some space to work in.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
For the Ravens' defense, note safety Ed Reed, last year's defensive player
of the year. He's been hurt this season but he's back now and he looks to
be 100% and he's a playmaker. He has an uncanny ability to read the
quarterback, he has great closing speed, and he's a pretty sound tackler.
For Baltimore's offense, the guy to watch is Todd Heap. Heap is an
excellent athlete who has a knack for finding soft spots in zone defense
and he's got great hands and very good body control. He should be Boller's
go to guy and is also a decent pass blocker.
For Denver's defense, keep an eye on defensive end Courtney Brown. Normal
Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown is done for the year, and Tony Pashos
will likely start in his place. This is a huge mismatch. Brown is showing
showing the speed and explosiveness the Browns thought they would get when
they selected him #1 overall a few years ago. He has the ability to
collapse the right side of the pocket when Baltimore drops back to pass
and even though his sack totals are nothing special, he and fellow
defensive end Trevor Pryce are forcing the quarterback to hurry their
throws and make mistakes. Without an experience, capable tackle on Brown,
Brown could have a huge day.
For the Broncos' offense, there is a spotlight on Jake Plummer. Plummer,
after playing mistake-free football for so long, has made a few mistakes
recently and there has been some talk that "Jake the Mistake" is back.
Plummer is at his best when the Broncos are running the football, which is
when he can roll out and find receivers downfield for big gains. Plummer
led the NFL in interceptions last season, largely due to him forcing his
throws when the running game has stalled. This season, he's been much
better, throwing the ball away or taking a sack rather than forcing his
throws, but he relapsed last week against Kansas City, prompting questions
about which Plummer is the real one. Though he's not seeing a strong
defense, how he responds should give some indication as to how much he
really has progressed as a passer this year.
Unless the Broncos just mail this one in, this is going to be an extremely
difficult game for the Ravens to win. Baltimore has been wracked with
injury on both sides of the ball. The offensive line will have a hard time
protecting the quarterback, the quarterback doesn't have a lot of
receiving targets to throw to, and he's got his own demons to battle. And
their running back, once a superstar, is being phased out and getting only
a few carries per game and by all indications is not a part of the team's
plans beyond this year. And on defense, they have a hard time stopping
people, their star linebacker is done for the season, their other
linebackers frequently are caught out of position and miss tackles, and
their defensive line is inconsistent and overall mediocre. This matchup
plays to the Broncos' strengths and with the game at Mile High, the only
way the Broncos lose this one is if they decide not to show up. Expect a
lot of Denver rushing yards early on, then the Broncos sit on the lead and
give up a garbage touchdown late.
Denver wins this by three touchdowns.
PLACES TO WATCH:
To listen to the game live over the Internet you can go to
http://www.850koa.com/listen/index.html for the Broncos broadcast. It is
free this season.
Failing that for some reason, there is also a hit-and-miss link that may
carry the broadcast at http://www.thegamelive.com
And if neither of those work, there's still the tried-and-true NFL
FieldPass. They are charging $9.95 (US) per month or $34.95 for the
If you want to sign up for that, go to the following link:
Also, here is a list of some websites that have live scores and updates.
NFL.com has a live application that runs in your browser and gives you
current stats and play-by-play information.
NFL.com: NFL Official Scoreboard
ESPN: ESPN scoreboard
NFL.com: Baltimore at Denver
USA Today: Game capsules
ESPN.com: ESPN experts' picks for week 14
|12-11-2005, 04:45 AM||#3|
Mo' holla fo' yo' dolla!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: In a bunker in an undisclosed location