Posted Wed Jan 9th by Monty
The Denver Broncos will host the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round of the 2012 playoffs on Saturday, January 12, 2013, and we’re breaking down all angles. Today: we break down advanced stats of Football Outsiders.
Rankings use Football Outsiders’ regular season DVOA rankings, which take into account every play of the NFL season and are adjusted for strength of opponent. Recall that negative DVOA is good for defense, bad for offense and specials.
When the Broncos have the ball
Broncos pass offense: 49.6% (2nd)
Ravens pass defense: 3.4% (13th)
Peyton Manning only mustered a pedestrian 204 passing yards last time, but those 204 yards seemed to come with ease, and Manning had a 94.9 passer rating. Wide receiver Eric Decker had a particularly memorable game, destroying cornerback Cary Williams on multiple occasions. The Ravens did hold Demaryius Thomas to only 13 receiving yards on four catches last time, so look for the Broncos to try to make better use of that weapon. But last time, the Broncos didn’t pass much because they simply didn’t need to.
Broncos rush offense: -2.8% (15th)
Ravens rush defense: 0.9% (26th)
The Broncos outperformed expectations last time, with Knowshon Moreno leading a ground attack for which the Ravens simply didn’t have an answer. The return of LB Ray Lewis, LB Dannell Ellerbe, and S Bernard Pollard could give Baltimore the defensive boost they need, but the Broncos have G Chris Kuper hopefully coming back as well.
It’s surprising to see the Ravens ranked so low in this category, but clearly age has finally caught up to one of the most perennially dominant defensive units in the league.
Broncos offense overall: 22.1% (2nd)
Ravens defense overall: 2.2% (19th)
When the Ravens have the ball
Ravens pass offense: 9.6% (15th)
Broncos pass defense: -10.6% (5th)
The Broncos were effective in disrupting Joe Flacco last time, allowing him to only complete 50% of his passes and really only get his offense going after the game was already out of hand. The Ravens’ top two receivers, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, were held to 14 and zero receiving yards respectively. One player who didDennis Pitta, who had 125 receiving yards for the day. Look for the Ravens to take advantage of that matchup problem again this week, with the hope of opening things up for their wide receiver duo. The return of Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda will certainly help to that end as well.
Ravens rush offense: 7.5% (7th)
Broncos rush defense: -18.1% (4th)
Ray Rice is and always has been dangerous, but the Ravens’ backup running back, Bernard Pierce, has emerged the last three weeks. Pierce, a third round rookie out of Temple, has 215 yards in the three games since the last Ravens-Broncos tilt. Meanwhile, Rice has come back strong as well.
This is a strength of the Ravens, but it is also a strength of the Broncos, as players like Kevin Vickerson and Keith Brooking have stepped up to lead a formidable rush defense. These Ravens running plays will be fun to watch.
Ravens offense overall: 3.0% (13th)
Broncos defense overall: -13.8% (5th)
Broncos special teams: 0.7% (13th)
Ravens special teams: 9.0% (1st)
The Ravens boast the most effective special teams unit in the league in 2012, and that unit is led by return specialist Jacoby Jones. Jones is a dangerous punt and kick returner for the Ravens, having scored three touchdowns on returns this season. He averages a 30.7 yard kickoff return, with a long of 108 yards for a touchdown. Kicker Justin Tucker has only missed two field goals all year.
Broncos overall: 39.4% (2nd)
Ravens overall: 9.8% (8th)
The Broncos have a defense that should be able to give the Ravens problems, while the offense should be able to put points on the board. The Ravens have a clear edge in the special teams department, but as long as that doesn’t get out of hand the other two units should be able to make up for that shortcoming.
On paper, it’s clear why Denver are nine-point favorites heading into this weekend. But there are on Paper Championships, and that’s why they play the game…