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Ravens vs. Broncos scouting report for Week 13: Who has the edge?


The Ravens’ winning streak evaporated when they blew another fourth-quarter lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Denver Broncos slogged through an even worse Week 12 as they fell to the Carolina Panthers and feuded on the sideline. Which frustrated team will have the key matchup advantages when they meet Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium?

Ravens passing game vs. Broncos pass defense

The Ravens have not recaptured their aerial mojo since quarterback Lamar Jackson scorched his way through the first three weeks of the season. Jackson misfired on several potential touchdown passes in the loss to Jacksonville, and his receivers let him down with a series of drops. As a result, the Ravens stalled in the red zone three times, and the points they left on the table cost them when the Jaguars rallied in the fourth quarter. They’ve scored touchdowns on just 51.2% of their red zone possessions this year, 24th in the league. On the bright side, veteran sprinter DeSean Jackson raced past the Jacksonville defense to catch a 62-yard pass at a crucial moment in the fourth quarter. If he has a few more of those in him, he could help open up the offense. But Jackson completed just four of nine passes for 40 yards to starting wide receivers Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson, who have not been able to stack productive games. Tight end Mark Andrews (52 catches on 79 targets, 601 yards, five touchdowns) remains option No. 1, but he has not matched his 2021 All-Pro form as he’s battled through knee and shoulder injuries. On another positive note, Patrick Mekari delivered fine pass protection as he filled in for an injured Ronnie Stanley (ankle) against the Jaguars.

The Ravens will try to get back on track against a very good Broncos pass defense led by cornerback Patrick Surtain II and linebacker Alex Singleton. The Broncos traded their best edge rusher, Bradley Chubb, but they blitz on 36.3% of drop-backs, the third-highest rate in the league, and excel at covering No. 1 wide receivers and tight ends. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged a paltry 5.1 yards per attempt against them.

EDGE: Broncos

Broncos passing game vs. Ravens pass defense

The Broncos gave up a massive haul to bring in quarterback Russell Wilson, thinking he would make them a Super Bowl contender. Instead, Wilson has played poorly, and the offense he leads ranks dead last in scoring. The situation reached a new low last weekend when Wilson and frustrated defensive tackle Mike Purcell bickered on the sideline after the Broncos went down 23-3 to the Panthers. Wilson completed just 19 of 35 passes for 142 yards in that loss and ranks 30th in ESPN’s QBR stat for all-around quarterback efficiency. Denver ranks 27th in Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA despite the presence of talented wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos are 30th in third-down conversion rate and last in red-zone conversion rate. Wilson has taken 35 sacks in 10 games.

It’s difficult to find a bright spot in head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s attack. Jeudy (ankle) has not played since Week 10 and did not practice Wednesday but could return against the Ravens, who hope this will be a get-well week for them after Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 29 of 37 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence picked on cornerback Marcus Peters for all three of his touchdowns, and the Ravens also missed rookie Kyle Hamilton (knee), who had become a key playmaker at nickel back and expects to return against the Broncos. They sacked Lawrence four times and forced a turnover for the 13th consecutive game but could not bother him sufficiently as he guided the Jaguars down the field in the last two minutes. That said, the defense was trending in the right direction before its fourth-quarter letdown and ranks eighth in pass DVOA. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is playing at a Pro Bowl level, while veterans Calais Campbell and Justin Houston have excelled as pass rushers. The Ravens are tied for fifth in the league with 35 sacks and second with 20 takeaways, numbers they would have loved last season.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens running game vs. Broncos run defense

The Ravens moved the ball consistently against Jacksonville with 162 rushing yards on 35 carries. Running back Gus Edwards returned after missing two games because of a hamstring injury. With 52 yards on 16 carries, he was less efficient than usual but made his presence felt in short-yardage situations. Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill combined for just three carries. Jackson was the team’s key runner as usual, with 89 yards on 14 carries. The Ravens rank second in the league in total rushing and in rush DVOA, so they’re still thriving by measures of volume and efficiency.

The Broncos aren’t as good against the run as they are against the pass, ranking 17th in rush DVOA and allowing opponents to average 4.6 yards per carry. The Panthers rumbled for 185 yards against them. Singleton is their leading tackler and grades as an excellent run defender, per Pro Football Focus, but the Broncos lack an elite interior run stuffer. Given Denver’s stinginess against the pass, this could be a grind-it-out game for Jackson and company.

EDGE: Ravens

Broncos running game vs. Ravens run defense

The Broncos lost their most explosive runner in Javonte Williams, so they’re relying on former Ravens fill-in Latavius Murray, who has given them solid work with 301 yards on four yards per carry in six games. Still, they rank 26th in run DVOA, so Wilson’s subpar performance is not the only problem with this offense.

The Broncos have not run for more than 125 yards in a game since Week 2, and they’ll face a defense that has not allowed more than 48 yards in a game since Week 7. The Ravens have a heap of good run defenders, from linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen in the middle to Tyus Bowser on the edge, to Campbell, Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington upfront. Despite a slow start against the run, they’re allowing opponents just 3.9 yards per carry, third best in the league.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens special teams vs. Broncos special teams

The Ravens continue to lead the league in special teams DVOA. Justin Tucker’s 67-yard attempt came up just short at the end of the Jaguars game, but he has made 24 of 27 attempts this season, with all of his misses from 56 yards or beyond. Duvernay is normally the league’s best returner, but he made some uncharacteristically poor decisions against Jacksonville to bury the Ravens near their own goal line.

The Broncos rank last in special-teams DVOA and have performed poorly in every area. Kicker Brandon McManus has missed six field goal attempts and two extra point tries. Primary kickoff and punt returner Montrell Washington has not busted any big plays.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens intangibles vs. Broncos intangibles

The Broncos have lost three in a row and seven of their last eight. Hackett is on the hot seat 11 games into his first season as head coach. Analysts are debating where the Wilson trade ranks among the worst in league history. Compared to these franchise-shaking woes, the Ravens’ inability to finish off opponents feels like a minor flaw. But they came out of their loss to the Jaguars a frustrated team, staring at the same problems that had haunted them early in the season, before a four-game winning streak moved them to the front of the AFC North.

Coach John Harbaugh never seems to lose his handle on a season, but he’s facing a tricky stretch as Jackson and offensive coordinator Greg Roman try to iron out their red zone woes with the Cincinnati Bengals coming on strong in divisional competition.

EDGE: Ravens


The Ravens don’t want to contemplate where they’ll be if they lose to the drain-circling Broncos at home. Lamar Jackson probably won’t go off against a very good Denver pass defense, but it’s hard to imagine the Broncos scoring enough points to keep up with the Ravens’ still-reliable ground attack. Just don’t expect any of this one to be pretty. Ravens 20, Broncos 10



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