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Published on 01/09/2013 at Wed Jan 09 07:19.
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Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) runs with the ball and gets away from Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50), for a 47 yard gain, during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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)

Advantage: Broncos

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)

Advantage: Broncos

Special Teams

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.

Advantage: Ravens


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…

  • Gary_in_SD

    If the Broncos can focus on keeping the one “elephant in the room” out of the equation that can ruin this whole party for us (turnovers), there is no doubt in my mind that things will play out on the field as they do on paper. I do worry about the cold weather forecast a bit too though. I’m sure the Ravens and their fans are welcoming it 100%. Anything to slow down Peyton and the Denver offense and perhaps help create turnovers is an advantage to them. Hopefully the wind will stay away.

  • Carlo Scuri

    DT had only 13 yards because basically Ed Reed double teamed him almost everytime. If we can establish the run with Knowshown, Pollard will come in the box an Decker will be one on one exactly like the last time.

  • Cheyenne Kid

    The Broncos are the better balanced and overall team,but they need to maintain the focus and intensity they used to acheive the 11 game winning streak to end the regular season. As far as the weather and turnovers, both teams have to cope with weather conditions and we actually vastly improved the turnover ratio over the latter 6 games of the season to where we are about even. And we won the turnover battle with the Ravens when we played. Go,go Broncos and prove you are the better team by Orange Crushing Baltimore!!!