Scouting Report

November 01, 2009|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Broncos run defense: Ray Rice has been one of the NFL's most explosive runners, with five carries of more than 20 yards. His 6-yard average ranks sixth among running backs with at least 10 carries. The Ravens, though, haven't run the ball more than 18 times during their three-game losing streak. Denver defensive coordinator Mike Nolan added sure-tackling veterans to transform a porous run defense into one of the NFL's best. Denver is third in the league against the run and is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. Inside linebackers D.J. Williams and Andra Davis have combined for 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Edge: EVEN

Ravens pass offense vs. Broncos pass defense: Joe Flacco has thrown for more than 300 yards in two of his three starts at home this season. Denver Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey likely will shadow wide receiver Derrick Mason, but Flacco spreads the ball around. Five Ravens have at least 20 catches. The Ravens, who have allowed only 10 sacks, will look to slow NFL sacks leader Elvis Dumervil (10 sacks). Denver hasn't allowed a 300-yard passer this season despite facing Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. The Broncos have held their past four opponents without a third-down conversion in the second half, the longest such NFL streak in 17 years. Offensive tackle Jared Gaither (neck), who missed the past two games, is questionable. Edge: EVEN

Broncos run offense vs. Ravens run defense: This game should determine whether the Ravens' run defense is the one that led the NFL for the first four weeks of the season or the one that gave up back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. The Ravens haven't allowed 100-yard rushers in three straight games since 1998. The Ravens recently replaced defensive end Trevor Pryce with Dwan Edwards on running downs. Denver rookie first-round pick Knowshon Moreno is gaining 3.8 yards per carry, 35th in the NFL. Correll Buckhalter has been a surprise, averaging 6.7 yards. Edge: RAVENS

Broncos pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: The Ravens' small cornerbacks face another matchup against a big receiver. Brandon Marshall, 6 feet 4 and 230 pounds, has four of Denver's 12 offensive touchdowns. The Ravens are expected to start Fabian Washington, who was benched last game. Rookie Lardarius Webb could see more time at nickel back. Denver QB Kyle Orton won't hurt defenses by going deep (25-for-56 on throws of more than 10 yards) but won't hurt his team either. His only interception this season was a Hail Mary attempt. Edge: BRONCOS

Special teams: Denver's Eddie Royal is one of two players to rank in the NFL's top 10 in punt and kickoff return average (Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs is the other). In his last game, Royal became the 11th player in NFL history to return a punt and kickoff for touchdowns in the same game. The Ravens' coverage teams rank 14th on punts and eighth on kickoffs. Denver signed 16-year veteran Mitch Berger to solidify their punter position. Before the bye, the Ravens' Steve Hauschka missed his first shot at a game-winning field goal. Broncos kicker Matt Prater has made six 50-yard field goals since 2008. Denver's biggest weakness is punt coverage, second-worst in the league. But Ravens punt returner Chris Carr ranks 27th in the NFL. Edge: BRONCOS

Intangibles: Both teams are coming off byes. Denver is 5-1 after a bye since 2003, and the Ravens have won five of seven. With a tough November (two AFC North road trips and home games against Indianapolis and Pittsburgh), the Ravens have a sense of urgency. The Ravens haven't lost to an AFC West team at home since 2004, winning three straight. Denver has lost all three trips to Baltimore (including playoffs), falling by an average of 16.3 points. Orton is 9-10 as a starting quarterback on the road. Edge: RAVENS

Prediction: Flacco has been on the cusp of two fourth-quarter comebacks in the past three games. This time, the Ravens make the plays to win a close game and take the first step in turning around their season. RAVENS, 20-17.

When the Ravens have the ball

Ravens offense

WR: 89 Clayton

LT: 71 Gaither

LG: 66 Grubbs

C: 77 Birk

RG: 65 Chester

RT: 74 Oher

TE: 86 Heap

QB: 5 Flacco

FB: 33 L. McClain

RB: 27 Rice

WR: 85 Mason

Broncos defense

DE: 98 McBean

NT: 91 Fields

DE: 90 Peterson

OLB: 57 Haggan

ILB: 54 Davis

ILB: 55 Williams

OLB: 92 Dumervil

LCB: 24 Bailey

SS: 23 Hill

FS: 20 Dawkins

RCB: 21 Goodman

When the Broncos have the ball

Broncos offense

WR: 19 Royal

LT: 78 Clady

LG: 50 Hamilton

C: 62 Wiegmann

RG: 73 Kuper

RT: 74 Harris

TE: 89 Graham

WR: 15 Marshall

QB: 8 Orton

RB: 28 Buckhalter

WR: 10 Gaffney

Ravens defense

DT: 92 Ngata

NT: 97 Gregg

DE: 93 Edwards

OLB: 55 Suggs

ILB: 56 Gooden

ILB: 52 Lewis

OLB: 95 Johnson

LCB: 31 F. Washington

SS: 26 Landry

FS: 20 Reed

RCB: 24 Foxworth

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