Posted Thu Oct 29th by Monty
Every week we take a look at the smarter stats that drive the NFL, focusing on the Broncos‘ upcoming matchup. This week it’s the Baltimore Ravens. Enjoy.
(We’re also tweaking the format a bit starting this week to discuss both the Broncos and their opponent.)
Broncos Rush Offense: -4.0% (18th)
Ravens Rush Defense: -18.6% (6th)
Analysis: A lot has been made of the vaunted Ravens recently giving up back-to-back 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2005, but the numbers suggest their rush defense still ranks among the tops in the league. Meanwhile, the Broncos’ ground game isn’t what it used to be. Blame the change in running scheme, blame injuries to Correll Buckhalter, or blame the playcalling, but the ground game isn’t the same. It’s not bad (and again, the Broncos are 6-0, so who’s complaining?), but it’s been one of the few disappointments this season. Unless the bye week gave Denver a rushing game reawakening, the Broncos’ best chances to score points may be through the air.
Broncos Pass Offense: 51.9% (5th)
Ravens Pass Defense: 4.9% (14th)
Analysis: DVOA is all about efficiency — getting the necessary yards to convert first downs while applying bonuses for plays that go beyond the needed yards — and the Kyle Orton-led pass attack has been magnificent in this area. Every week, Josh McDaniels and OC Mike McCoy have been able to find mismatches with a seemingly different weapon on the offense. In Week 6 it was Tony Scheffler. In weeks prior it was Brandon Marshall. Meanwhile, the Ravens pass defense has struggled. The usual sack-happy defense that likes to confuse opponents with multiple looks has been a bit tamed without Rex Ryan, and they have 14.0 sacks on the season (16th in the league). While Ed Reed is dangerous, the Broncos should be able to pick apart the rest of the secondary with good protection, and hell, maybe even focus on Domonique Foxworth a bit.
Ravens Rush Offense: 25.3% (3rd)
Broncos Rush Defense: -27.1% (2nd)
Analysis: Strength vs. strength. Some question whether the Broncos have been tested by a rush offense this potent yet, but the Cowboys came into Denver boasting the league’s top rushing unit, and the Broncos handled them. NT Ronald Fields, who missed Wednesday with a hamstring injury, has been a key part of the team’s turnaround. He returned to practice Thursday.
Ravens Pass Offense: 34.8% (11th)
Broncos Pass Defense: -15.1% (6th)
Analysis: QB Joe Flacco has been putting on a show, and Baltimore is wacko for Flacco. His pass protection has been somewhat of an issue during their three-game slide, and the Ravens hope the return of T Jared Gaither will help them in this area. It’s unclear whether Gaither or Michael Oher will line up at LT (Oher, traditionally the starting RT, filled in the left side in Gaither’s absence), but the Broncos are known to move around Elvis Dumervil anyway. Both should be ready to face the league’s sack-leader, no matter where they line up.
These are two good teams facing off this Sunday. Of all these rankings, only one — the Broncos’ rush offense — ranks in the second half of the league, and then just barely. We’re talking about two solid, complete, well-rounded teams.