Can the Broncos slow down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens?
DENVER – The Broncos’ biggest test of the season is almost here.
On Sunday, the undefeated Broncos will host the Ravens at Empower Field in Mile High – and over the course of 60 minutes, they will have a chance to prove themselves to the NFL.
“We have a great team coming up this week,” Von Miller said this week. “It’s really like a playoff game at the start of the season.
After a week of national debate on the strength of the Broncos’ 3-0 start, they will have the opportunity to silence the skeptics.
Against a 2-1 Ravens team that has already knocked out the two-time defending AFC champions Kansas City Chiefs, it won’t happen without a fight. Lamar Jackson is one of the best players in the league, and the Ravens have traditionally had one of the best defenses in the league.
A win, however, would push the Broncos to 4-0 for the first time since 2016 and solidify that Denver side as an AFC contender.
These are the questions that will determine whether the Broncos can achieve their biggest win in years:
CAN THE BRONCOS SLOW DOWN LAMAR JACKSON?
Lamar Jackson’s statistics are hard to believe. The 2019 NFL MVP leads the NFL in yards per carry and yards per completion. He paces the best rushing offense in the NFL, one that can tie an NFL record for most consecutive 100-yard games if he hits the mark on Sunday. He’s scored at least one touchdown in 39 straight games – the fifth longest streak in NFL history – and Baltimore has 14 points in 46 straight games.
“He can run, he can throw, he can do all kinds of things,” Von Miller said Thursday. “He can shake guys in the hole and outside the hole. If you get him into space, it’s a nightmare for anyone. You could be [S] Justin Simmons and it’s a nightmare going after this guy. It’s going to be a tough test for us. They have a strong team. They pride themselves on being physical and being a top-notch team. We have to match them. We have to go out, play our football style and play one game at a time. “
Jackson didn’t train on Wednesday or Thursday, but he returned to the pitch as a full participant on Friday – and it won’t be easy to stop him. Denver’s best hope will be to force the Ravens into third and long-lasting situations and hope their third-place pass defense is up for the challenge. The Ravens have struggled this season in third place as they sit 30th in the league in conversions after the first three weeks. In the third and long run, they were even less successful – and that could be a path to victory for Denver.
CAN DENVER’S DEFENSE WIN IN THE RED ZONE?
Since Fangio arrived in Denver, no team has been better than the Broncos in the red zone. Last year, the Broncos became the first team in at least 25 years to lead the league in red zone defense in consecutive seasons. And thanks to three games in 2021, the Broncos are once again No.1 in the league. The sample size is limited – Denver has only allowed three trips to the red zone and none in the last two games – but the Broncos seem to have a knack for bending without breaking on the defensive end.
“[It’s] just the players who play well there, ”Fangio said of the team’s success in the red zone. “Everything you do well in this league is because the players are playing well. They have certainly done a good job there in the past. We didn’t have as many chances there in the first three games as usual, but the Ravens did. They pose a lot of problems. “
The Broncos must be excellent again in Week 4 as the Ravens have the league’s third best red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 87.5% of their attempts. In a force-on-force clash, the Broncos could turn the game around if their defense can gain the advantage.