Ravens - Broncos: 5 keys to the game

5 keys - RavensInsider's regular weekly article. 5 things the Ravens must do in order to beat the Denver Broncos today in the rarified air at Invesco Field at Mile High.

1. Heading into Sunday's football game against the Denver Broncos (9-3), the last-place Baltimore Ravens (4-8) aren't expected to be competitive. They're a two-touchdown underdog, which is the least respect that Las Vegas has paid the Ravens in several years. Virtually no one expects Baltimore to be able to contain a diverse running game or slow down elusive quarterback Jake Plummer. The doubters are even more convinced that quarterback Kyle Boller will return to his turnover-prone ways against the Broncos' ball-hawking secondary.

Hardly anyone is banking on disgruntled running back Jamal Lewis snapping out of a season-long funk against the NFL's third-ranked rushing defense.

A close game might qualify as the dreaded moral victory, which is typically only entertained by teams in the Ravens' lowly position. That's where and who the Ravens are, though, now. It's hard to figure out how Baltimore will muster enough offense to keep pace with the high-scoring Broncos. It's much more likely that the Ravens' scrappy defense might rise to the occasion. That's the Ravens' best hope of avoiding an embarrasing loss in a matchup that looks like a sure-fire blowout. If the Ravens lose this game, it will mark their seventh road loss of the season and 10th in a row dating back to last season.

2. Find a way to establish the run. The Broncos' stingy run defense is impressive, although not completely impenetrable. The Ravens can't abandon the run so soon. Even with Lewis unhappy and unproductive and Chester Taylor not 100 percent, the lack of carries creates an offensive imbalance.

3. Rush the passer. Terrell Suggs broke his pass rushing silence with a career-high three sacks last week. However, Suggs is playing against Matt Lepsis, a legitimate left tackle. Will the trend of disappearing acts continue or will Suggs prove that he can generate heat on the passer no matter who's trying to block him?

4. Treat the football with reverence. The Ravens are last in the AFC and tied for 29th in the NFL at turnover margin with a minus-11 differential. The Broncos rank second in the league with a plus-15 differential with only six interceptions thrown and seven lost fumbles.

5. Capitalize in the red zone. The Ravens are 28th in red-zone scoring with only 11 touchdowns in 28 trips inside opponents' 20-yard line for a 39.3 touchdown percentage. Meanwhile, the Broncos rank seventh with 25 touchdowns in 43 trips inside the 20 for a 58.1 touchdown percentage.


In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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