The Denver Broncos will enter Week 3 of the NFL season 2-0 for the sixth consecutive season. They’ll look to stay perfect this weekend when they travel to Maryland to take on the Baltimore Ravens (1-1). The game will be played on Sunday, September 23 at 12 PM ET and will be aired on CBS.
Notable players on the injury report for both teams include Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall (Knee, questionable) and cornerback Adam Jones (thigh, questionable), and Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst (foot, out), linebacker CJ Mosely (knee, questionable) and tackle Ronnie Stanley (elbow, questionable).
Last week, the Broncos stole a 20-19 win over the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders when kicker Brandon McManus snuck the go-ahead 36-yard field goal in the right upright with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation. Denver’s offense sputtered most of the first half and was held scoreless, but revived themselves, thanks to a couple of big plays from running back Phillip Lindsay (14 carries for 107 yards) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (24 yards per reception).
The Ravens are coming off a 34-23 divisional loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which Baltimore still out-gained Cincinnati 425-373. Turnovers ultimately decided the game, as they gave the ball away three times and didn’t manage any takeaways on defense.
As is almost always the case, the turnover battle will likely be a big factor on Sunday. The Broncos go into Week 3 as the only undefeated team in the league with a negative turnover differential at -1. Case Keenum has yet to have a turnover free game, and has thrown the second most interceptions out of any quarterback this year with four. Defensively, the Broncos were unable to create a takeaway in last week’s win.
Another key to victory for the Broncos will be the play of their secondary. The back end of the defense has been a major strength for Denver in years past, but so far this season it has been one of the biggest weaknesses. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr carved the Broncos defense up last Sunday, completing 29 of his 32 passes. His 90.6% completion percentage broke the single game record for a quarterback who threw at least 30 passes.
“We’re playing alright, not to the level we want to play. We still have a lot of room to improve,” said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. of his unit.
This Sunday’s game will be the Broncos’ first road game of the season. Nobody in the building is underplaying the differences between being successful at home as opposed to being on the road. The team played extremely poorly on the road last season, finishing 1-7 away from Denver.
“You can’t have that,” said linebacker Brandon Marshall, talking about Denver’s poor play on the road a year ago. “In the seasons we were in the playoffs and went to the Super Bowl, the road was just another thing we handled without worrying about it. Worry about how you play, you know. Worry about how you prepare.”
Head coach Vance Joseph had this to say about the advantages the home team has: “Teams are more comfortable, the crowd noise – that’s huge for an offense. But really it can affect you if you let it, so you can’t let it.”
While it’s hard enough to beat any team on the road, the Baltimore Ravens have been especially dominant at home since quarterback Joe Flacco and head coach Jim Harbaugh’s first year in 2008. Their 62-21 home record (including playoffs) in that span ranks second in the league only to the New England Patriots.
The Broncos will look to keep a sold out crowd at M&T Bank stadium quiet, and if they can do that, they have a good chance at remaining undefeated.
While the Ravens are historically tough to beat at home, this Broncos team seems to have the leadership and talent on both sides of the ball to win on the road. If Keenum can play a clean, turnover-free game, the Denver should have success on offense. A noticeable advantage that the Broncos bring into this game is their ability to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. The Broncos own the second best rushing offense in football, averaging 157 yards per game. To go along with that, Denver ranks 6th in the NFL in run defense through two games, while Baltimore sits at 23rd in run offense. This should make the Ravens’ offense one-dimensional, which will be a big help for a Broncos secondary that struggled mightily last week.
Score: Broncos 27, Ravens 14