Ravens and Broncos feature balanced attacks

This Monday night game puts the Baltimore Ravens' squad that has found a way to remain undefeated thus far this season against the Denver Broncos, which maybe has not performed as well as expected. The last couple of weeks, the Ravens have basically snatched two victories within minutes of defeat in wins over the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers.

However, the Broncos lost their season opener to the St. Louis Rams and were not impressive by any measure with their 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs during the second week of the season.
However, Denver rose to the occasion and downed the New England Patriots on the road in week three of the season. This game will clearly be a test for both teams. The Ravens have their chance to prove they are the real deal by going into one of the more hostile stadiums and get their third win on the road of the season.
Nevertheless, the Broncos will have to overcome a potent Ravens defense that has allowed only three touchdowns in four games.
The clear-cut key to the game may fall on how the Broncos produce on offense against a Ravens defense that has been dominating in their four wins.
The Broncos has to be able to run the ball with starting running back Tatum Bell to be successful. While Denver has the ability to run the ball as well as any team in the NFL, the Broncos will be facing the best-run defense in the league this season.
Baltimore allows barely over 63 yards per game on average rushing the ball. The Ravens are extremely tough in the middle with Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata at the tackle positions.
With the addition of a healthy Ray Lewis at the middle linebacker, the Broncos will have their work cut of for them. The Broncos may choose to attack the perimeters rather than try to overpower the Ravens inside.
With that in mind, Denver may try to attack former Bronco Trevor Pryce and Adalius Thomas. But safeties Ed Reed and Dawan Landry are no slouches when it comes to the defensive run support and will come up when the need be to stuff the run.
Again, for the Broncos to have any success in the passing game, they will have to get a solid running attack. Quarterback Jake Plummer seemingly is on the hot seat every game at this point and will be facing an aggressive defense that leads the NFL in sacks with 17 over the first four games.
Linebacker Bart Scott already has five sacks ion the season and look for Baltimore to bring as much pressure as possible from all angles in an effort to force Plummer into making the critical mistakes he has been known for. Wide receiver Javon Walker is the best threat the Broncos have, but he will draw cornerback Chris McAlister in coverage.
Looking at the other end of the field, The Ravens will try to pound Jamal Lewis at the Denver's defense. Baltimore has not been dominating running the ball over their first four games, but they have not had to be in a sense.
They move the chains and let the defense do the rest of the work. Baltimore will go inside primarily since Lewis is not a true perimeter threat and the linebackers for Denver possess a good amount of speed and range.
If Lewis and the Ravens succeed at running the ball, safety John Lynch will always be close by to help in run support. Do not be surprised to see the Ravens employ two tight end sets to get more push up front.
Quarterback Steve McNair may not be what he once was, but he is getting the job done for the Ravens. He has not put up huge numbers but he has thrown five touchdown passes and come through in the clutch for the Ravens.
The Ravens have three solid threats in the passing attack with receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton and tight end Todd Heap. While the wideouts have yet to reach their mark in the end zone, Heap already has three touchdowns along with back-up tight end Daniel Wilcox having two to his game.
The Ravens have lived somewhat on eggshells the past two games; however, have come out on top and ahead of the AFC North Division. If they can come up with any type of consistent type of offense and get in front of the Broncos, their defense will be hard to crack.
Even with the Broncos' road win over the Patriots, the offense has not been running as smooth as seasons before. Nevertheless, if the Ravens shut the ground game down, it could be a very long day for Jake Plummer and company.
*Prediction: Ravens 24 – Broncos 17
Sean A. Stinnett covers the Baltimore Ravens for Football.com and is the producer of the Jeremy Conn Show weekdays from 6p.m. – 8p.m. on WNST Sports Talk Radio – 1570am in Baltimore.

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