Advantage: Baltimore Ravens
The Denver Broncos have been relying heavily on the passing game to win games because of the injuries plaguing their running backs. Not much will change for the Broncos on Sunday because Knowshon Moreno and fullback Spencer Larsen have been ruled out. That means Laurence Maroney will most likely be the starting running back and tight end Dan Gronkowski will fill in as the full back.
Though today’s NFL has a heavy emphasis on passing, a team does need some semblance of a running game to effectively work the play-action pass. But Denver has had little success on the ground; Laurence Maroney is averaging 1.3 yards a carry (29 total yards) and Correll Buckhalter’s average is 1.8 (49 total yards).
Denver’s offense may try to establish the run, but if unsuccessful that means the Ravens defense won’t have to stack the box— allowing an extra defender to either drop back in coverage or blitz the quarterback.
Denver has employed quick-passes to manufacture a few yards in place of the run. But the Ravens don’t mind giving up a few yards, they put priority on preventing the big plays.
What the Ravens defense must do:
1. Stop the Run: Make sure Denver stays one-dimensional by stopping the run.
2. Blitz/Stunts: An emphasis will be put to getting pressure on QB Kyle Orton, who has had much success. The team might be more aggressive by sending an extra pass rusher. In Pittsburgh, the Ravens called a stunt where Ray Lewis blitzed and Terrell Suggs crossed over (right end to center position) to rush the passer. The result? Terrell Suggs recorded his 60th career sack.