Peyton Manning vs. Ravens Passing Defense/Dan Pees
The Ravens defense has a really good group from front to back, but they are facing Peyton Manning, who is one one the greatest to every play the game. Most of Manning's battles are won before the snap, in his head. He is one of the best at reading defenses before the snap.
At the snap, he goes through his reads quickly, and throws almost immediately. His quick throws also help beat blitzes, which will be needed on Sunday. As for the Ravens, much comes down to defensive coordinator Dean Pees and how well he can cover his defensive looks and use his pass rush to cause disruption for the Broncos offense, and in particular, Peyton Manning.
Edge goes to: Peyton Manning.
Joe Flacco vs. Broncos Passing Defense/Wade Phillips
The Broncos defense looks like a top-five unit in the NFL, at worst. Of course, it was only preseason, but they have talent across the board. As for Joe Flacco, he is a good NFL quarterback. He's smart, and can read defenses quickly. I would expect a lot of quick throws to try and counter the excellent pass rush of the Broncos.
Flacco’s big area of weakness comes from interior pressure, which Wade Phillips most likely knows. Phillips will have his work cut out for him in getting consistent pressure up the middle.
Edge goes to: Broncos defense.
Justin Forsett vs. Broncos Run Defense
On top of having a top passing defense, the Broncos should have a top run defense. However, against the Ravens, they will be missing their two of their best run defenders in Derek Wolfe and T.J. Ward. Justin Forsett really broke out a year ago under the system Gary Kubiak, former Ravens offensive coordinator, runs. While the defense should still be solid, it won’t be as good as they would be with Wolfe and Ward in the lineup.
Edge goes to: Justin Forsett
C.J. Anderson vs. Ravens Run Defense
The Ravens have a good run defense, and they fly to the ball. Defending the run seems to be their stronger area on defense. While they are dealing with injuries on their defense, all their starters should be out on that field.
Edge goes to: Ravens run defense.
Broncos Offensive Line vs. Ravens Pass Rush
The Broncos offensive line is a work in progress, which you expect with four new starters. However, they'll start off with arguably their toughest matchup of the season. LT Ty Sambrailo struggled with speedier rushers in the preseason, and he will often find himself facing veteran Elvis Dumervil—a speed rusher.
On the other side, RT Ryan Harris will find himself matched up with Terrell Suggs. Those two OLBs are where the big pass rushing threats come from on the Ravens defense, but it is enough with the Broncos offensive line.
Edge goes to: Raven's pass rush.
Ravens Offensive Line vs. Broncos Pass Rush
The Ravens have a solid offensive line, complete with all their starters returning. However, they have their work cut out for them with the group of pass rushers the Broncos have. Not only do they have Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, but Phillips can substitute them out with Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett. There's also Malik Jackson on the defensive line, as well.
Edge goes to: Broncos pass rush.
Ravens Offensive Line vs. Broncos Run Defense
As previously mentioned, the Ravens have an offensive line that has all five starters returning. They will matchup with a good Broncos run defense, missing two key pieces. This is where strength meets strength, which offers up one of the more intriguing matchups entering the game.
Edge goes to: Push.
Broncos Offensive Line vs. Ravens Run Defense
This is another one of the more interesting matchups. It isn’t because they both are strengths for the respective teams. It is because both sides have a ton of upside. This is a battle that could easily go either way.
Edge goes to: Push.
Ravens Tight Ends vs. Broncos Linebackers/Safeties
The Ravens have three young tight ends with a ton of upside. They could easily cause mismatches with just about any defense. However, the Broncos linebackers and safeties are quick, athletic and smart. This is another one of the more intriguing matchups.
Edge goes to: Push.
Broncos Tight Ends vs. Ravens Linebackers/Safeties
This is a similar matchup as the Ravens tight ends vs. the linebackers and safeties, except the tight ends for Denver are more known. Like the Broncos, the Ravens linebackers and safeties are quick, smart and athletic. The matchup is a really good one, and could be a huge factor in the outcome of the game.
Edge goes to: Ravens linebackers and safeties.
Broncos Receivers vs. Ravens Secondary
There isn’t much to say here. One group outmatches the other greatly. There is a major talent differential between the two groups.
Edge goes to: Broncos receivers.
Ravens Receivers vs. Broncos Secondary
Just as the Broncos receivers vs. Ravens secondary was lopsided, there's a similar disparity here. Again, one group majorly out-classes the other.
Edge goes to: Broncos secondary.
That wraps up Part II of the Broncos vs. Ravens game preview series. Check out Part I HERE. In the next, and final, part of the series, I will go over players to watch for both sides and end with my projected outcome of the game. Stay tuned.
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