Opponent Preview, Week Five: Denver Broncos
BRONCOS HAVE NEVER WON IN BALTIMORE
By Joe Platania
OPPONENT PREVIEW: DENVER BRONCOS
What: Week Five
When: Oct. 10, 1 p.m.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
2010 records: Broncos, 2-2; Ravens, 3-1
TV: WJZ-TV, Channel 13 (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts)
Radio: WIYY-FM, 97.9 (Gerry Sandusky, Qadry Ismail, Stan White)
ABOUT THE BRONCOS
- Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Broncos are tied for third in the NFL in Super Bowl appearances (six, winning two) and are in the league's top five in winning seasons (24), overall wins (374), regular season wins (357) and home wins (216).
- Denver is on a streak of 281 consecutive games without being shut out, the longest current streak in the league and second-longest in history (San Francisco, 420 games, 1977-2004). The last time Denver was blanked was Nov. 22, 1992 against the Los Angeles Raiders.
- The Broncos were one of the league's streakiest teams last year, starting with six straight wins, then losing eight of their last 10 starting with a 30-7 blowout loss in Baltimore when both teams were coming off byes and missing the playoffs. They were 8-8 for a second straight season and are 32-32 since 2006 with no postseason appearances. So far this year, they have displayed a loss-win-loss-win pattern through four weeks.
- The 2009 season marked the fifth time Denver has started 6-0 in team history, but it was the first time the Broncos had a 6-0 mark and did not advance to the Super Bowl. It was also the third time since the 1970 merger any NFL team had started 6-0 and missed the playoffs.
- Against the Ravens, the Broncos are 3-5 in regular and postseason play but have never beaten the Ravens in Baltimore, losing four games by a combined 111-39. Their Charm City losses include the 2000 Wild Card Weekend game.
- The game in Baltimore will mark the end of a Raven-esque schedule stretch for the Broncos, who are playing three of their first five games away from home. Denver gets a bit of a break by not having to face an AFC West opponent until Oct. 24 when it hosts Oakland.
- In the teams' most recent meeting last year, both squads were coming off their bye weeks, but the Ravens got a second-half kickoff return for a touchdown and romped, 30-7. Denver started its late-season slide that day as the Ravens broke a three-game pre-bye losing streak.
- In 2009, the Broncos fortunes were turned over to the sixth-youngest NFL head-coaching hire, former New England Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, now 34. McDaniels played quarterback at Ohio's John Carroll University, alma mater of former Baltimore and Miami head coach Don Shula, the eighth-youngest coach hired.
- McDaniels, a part of the staff for all three Patriots' Super Bowl wins, surrounded himself with veteran talent. However, McDaniels (second season, 10-10 record) is one of seven head coaches leaguewide calling his own plays.
- The Broncos' offense is fourth-ranked in the league (32nd and last rushing, first passing at 339.5 yards per game, 11th scoring), while the defense is ranked 16th (tied for 12th vs. rush, 17th vs. pass, tied for 20th scoring).
- Until Kyle Orton signed a $12 million extension in August, he had never been the highest-paid quarterback on his own team. As the season began, Orton was the eighth-best active quarterback in win percentage (.604) and fifth-best in red-zone TD-INT efficiency (an eye-popping 39-3). This year, his 1,419 yards passing through four weeks is the second-most in NFL history over that span (Kurt Warner, 1,557 yards, 2000).
- The Broncos have a lopsided run-pass ratio of minus-85 (101 rushes, 186 passes, including sacks allowed). Orton has thrown a league-high 43.8 passes per game and has five completions of 40 or more yards, tied with Michael Vick for most in the league.
- Former Heisman Trophy winner and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow hasn't played since Week One against Jacksonville when he carried the ball twice for two yards.
- Second-year RB Knowshon Moreno hit the rookie wall after a solid, but unspectacular season (947 yards), gaining nearly four yards a carry but just two runs of 20 or more yards and no 100-yard games. He has been out with a hamstring injury, dropping his average to 2.8 yards per carry and leading the team with a paltry 111 yards. Moreno could return this week.
- Former Philadelphia back Correll Buckhalter has been more of a threat catching passes; he hauled in the game-winner at Tennessee last week. He is tied for fifth on the team with 11 receptions, averaging 6.5 per catch. Ex-Maryland running back Lance Ball is on the practice squad.
- With ex-Ravens wideout Brandon Stokley gone for the year and Brandon Marshall traded to Miami, the main targets are Brandon Lloyd (25 catches, 18.2 yards per catch, one TD) and former Virginia Tech standout Eddie Royal (25, 12.0, two). They are complemented by ex-New England star Jabar Gaffney (22, 10.9, one) and first-round pick Demaryius Thomas (11, 13.5, one).
- The Broncos' defensive line got fortified this year with the additions of Colorado graduate and ex-Raven Justin Bannan, as well as Jamal Williams, who was named to three Pro Bowl teams while with San Diego.
- Broncos outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil had 17 of the Broncos' 39 sacks last season, but is injured and out for the year. The Broncos have only four sacks total, but one of them is from safety Brian Dawkins whose 22 career sacks are fourth-most by a defensive back in league history and just 8.5 behind record-holder Rodney Harrison. The eight-time Pro Bowl honoree is one of only four players with at least 33 interceptions and 20 sacks.
- Linebackers Robert Ayers and D.J. Williams are the co-leaders in sacks, 1.5 each. Ayers does have a team-high seven quarterback hits and Williams has a team-high 30 total tackles.
- The secondary is old; all four starters have played at least nine years in the league. Dawkins is 37 but had a good first season in Denver. Safety Renaldo Hill, and cornerbacks Andre Goodman and Champ Bailey are also back. Bailey has 47 career interceptions, second among active players and one ahead of the Ravens' Ed Reed.
- Cornerback Perrish Cox has six of the team's 15 pass breakups, but Bailey is right behind him with four.
- The Broncos' return game is manned by the omnipresent Royal, who had a touchdown each on kick and punt runbacks last year and is averaging 10.2 yards on punts in 2010. Thomas handles the kickoffs at a 36-yard pace on four runbacks.
- Kicker Matt Prater isn't very big but has a powerful leg, converting all eight attempts this year and 30-of-35 in 2009. He has 37 kickoff touchbacks since the start of last season; his 28 touchbacks in 2009 were one behind league leader David Buehler of Dallas.
- Punter Britton Colquitt beat out A.J. Trapasso for the job. Colquitt, a Tennessee product, is the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers punter Craig Colquitt. He has dropped six of 16 punts inside the coffin corner and is grossing 45.5 yards per punt.
- The kick coverage team allowed a 98-yard touchdown last week to Tennessee's Matt Mariani. In last year's visit to Baltimore, it allowed Lardarius Webb to run 95 yards for a score to break open a close game. Punt coverage is allowing an embarrassing 15 yards per return, but Colquitt has enticed seven fair catches.
- Former Navy special teams coach and alumnus Mike Preifer coaches the special teams with Keith Burns, the linebacker famously obliterated by a Ray Lewis block during Chris McAlister's 107-yard runback of a missed field goal in a 2002 Ravens win over Denver.
PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Broncos 13
The Broncos are a middle-of-the-pack bunch still trying to find traction and balance under McDaniels.
JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME: Who has the highest single-game rushing yardage total against the Ravens?
The answer will be revealed in this afternoon's post.
Posted October 7, 2010