3TFO: Broncos @ Ravens, Week 15
The Denver Broncos head to Baltimore this Sunday, knowing that realistically they need to win to have any chance of securing a first round bye in the playoffs. Currently on an eight-game winning streak, with their last loss against the New England Patriots, they’ll be confident in doing just that.
Confidence is something not many Baltimore Ravens fans have left after late losses at home to Pittsburgh and on the road in Washington cost them the chance to clinch the division in consecutive weeks. That led to the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron as the Ravens look to get their Super Bowl hopes back on track.
In a game between one division champ and another within touching distance of clinching their own there are plenty of matchups to keep an eye on. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three in particular.
Von Miller vs. Kelechi Osemele and Michael Oher
In a season where three defensive players have dominated well beyond anyone else, the Ravens’ offensive line is unfortunate enough to play a total of four games against the three candidates. This week it’s Denver’s outside linebacker, and pass rushing nightmare, Von Miller. With 16 sacks, 13 hits and 45 hurries registered on 365 pass rushing snaps in 2012, Miller has a Pass Rushing Productivity rating of 16.3. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s not just getting it done as a pass rusher. With 25 of his 28 tackles against the run resulting in a defensive stop, he has a Run Stop Percentage of 8.8% from the 284 snaps he has seen against the run.
With Miller splitting his time between the right and left side, although the majority of his snaps come from the left, it falls on both Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele to deal with him. At left tackle, Oher has allowed 37 total pressures from 484 pass blocking snaps in 2012, giving him a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of 93.9. Opposite him, Osemele has fared a little better, allowing 28 pressures from 472 pass blocking snaps for a PBE Rating of 95.0, 27th among all offensive tackles. They’ll both have their hands full in keeping Miller at bay on Sunday, especially considering the Ravens have allowed a sack and forced fumble from quarterback Joe Flacco’s blindside in each of the last two games.
Denver’s Cornerbacks vs. Baltimore’s Wide Receivers
In the defensive backfield in Denver, cornerback Champ Bailey continues to be as reliable as always, allowing just the one touchdown pass to be completed in his coverage in 2012. While he hasn’t made many plays on the ball, with just two interceptions and two pass breakups, he has allowed just three receptions of 20 yards or more, limiting big plays from opposing receivers. Opposite Bailey, Chris Harris Jr. proved his worth in Tracy Porter’s absence, playing well enough to hold onto the starting job despite Porter being healthy again. Giving up 360 receiving yards on 390 snaps in coverage, he has allowed 0.92 Yards Per Coverage Snap, the seventh best mark among cornerbacks. However, it’s not just in coverage that he stands out, ranking second among players at his position in terms of Run Stop Percentage, with 14 of his 21 tackles against the run resulting in a defensive stop.
With the change in offensive coordinators in Baltimore, many fans will be hoping to see more consistency from that side of the ball. While the offense has struggled enough to see that change at the helm, however, it’s worth noting that the wide receivers are playing as well as any group of Ravens receivers in recent memory. With just two drops from the 60 catchable passes thrown to him, Anquan Boldin ranks second among wide receivers with a Drop Rate of just 3.33. Torrey Smith has been less reliable in that regard, with a Drop Rate of 10.42 coming from five drops on 48 catchable passes, however his speed makes him one of the best deep threats in the league. No receiver has more touchdown receptions on throws travelling 20 or more yards in the air than Smith’s five. One player who new coordinator Jim Caldwell may want to feature more is Jacoby Jones, who started the season with receptions of 20 or more yards in the opening three game, but has just two long receptions in the nine games since.
Which Joe Flacco Turns Up?
One of the staples of the Cam Cameron era in Baltimore has been the inconsistency of Joe Flacco from game to game and even half to half. Last Sunday’s loss to the Redskins was no different, with Flacco throwing three impressive touchdown passes in the first half but falling apart in the second with poor throws and poor pocket presence leading to turnovers and stalled drives. No quarterback in the league has targeted a higher percentage of their passes 20 yards or further downfield, yet he has completed just 39.0% of them with far too many sailing over the heads of receivers. When the good Joe Flacco turns up, like he did in the AFC Championship game last season, the Ravens are a match for any team in the league. The problem is you just don’t know which quarterback you’re going to see. That will be the most intriguing aspect of the change in offensive coordinators, has Flacco been limited by the play calling or is it down to his inability to remain consistent for four quarters that has caused the offense to struggle?
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