Kickoff: 1 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
TV: Channel 13, WJZ (Baltimore) CBS crew (Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Jane Slater)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) & 98Rock (97.9 FM)
Jersey color: Purple jerseys, white pants
A home loss at this juncture would hurt the Ravens. They play on the road for three straight weeks after this game – at Pittsburgh (Week 4), at Cleveland (Week 5) and at Tennessee (Week 6). This is also a crucial week for the Ravens defense, which wants to reestablish itself after surrendering 34 points to the Bengals in Week 2.
The Ravens last faced the Broncos on Sept. 13, 2015, a 19-13 loss in Denver. Former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak made his debut as Broncos head coach. Justin Tucker kicked two field goals for the Ravens, including a 52-yarder. But after Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith put the Ravens ahead with a pick-six, Joe Flacco threw a pick-six to Aqib Talib for Denver’s go-ahead score.
One of the Ravens’ most dramatic wins in franchise history occurred in Denver on Jan. 12, 2013. On the way to winning Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens won a divisional playoff game over the Broncos, 38-35, in double overtime and frigid temperatures (13 degrees, below-zero wind chill). Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown pass with under a minute left in regulation to force overtime. Then Tucker nailed a 47-yarder in the second overtime to seal the win.
Can the Ravens contain Broncos pass rusher Von Miller?
Miller is one of the NFL’s most dynamic defensive players and has a Super Bowl MVP trophy to prove it. Even if the Ravens contain Miller most of the afternoon, he can make one or two plays at crucial moments that can turn the game in Denver’s favor. The Ravens’ offensive line surrendered four sacks in Week 2. A better performance will be needed to keep Miller away from Flacco.
The Ravens run defense will face a significant test
Denver undrafted rookie running back Phillip Lindsay is averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and he is also dangerous as a receiver and a returner. Lindsay has breakaway speed, which makes him extremely tough to stop.
“Lindsay is a rocket!’’ Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said. “I think he runs 4.3, the kid from Colorado. You always have to be aware. Your antennae go up when he’s in the game. The other kid [Royce Freeman] is a really good running back. He just doesn’t have 4.3 speed. But, you can see why they drafted him and also why they signed him, Lindsay, as an undrafted free agent, because he has a skill set that jumps out at you.”
Broncos quarterback Case Keenum has been throwing interceptions
After throwing just seven interceptions playing with the Minnesota Vikings last season, Keenum has thrown four picks already this season. The Ravens will try to add to that total Sunday.
Matchups to watch
Ravens run defense vs. Broncos running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay
Bengals running back Joe Mixon hurt the Ravens with change-of-direction runs, and both Freeman and Lindsay are good at making tacklers miss. The Broncos are likely to test the Ravens’ run defense early and often, especially if Mosley does not play, or does not look 100 percent if he plays.
Ravens running back Alex Collins vs. Broncos run defense
The Ravens would love to get Collins more touches – he has just 16 rushing attempts in two games. But the Ravens must run the ball effectively and avoid falling behind early to get their running game going. A consistent running game would help keep Miller away from Flacco.
Ravens cornerbacks vs. Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders is ninth in the NFL in receiving yards (231) and the Broncos have another talented receiver in Demaryius Thomas who must be accounted for. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green caught three touchdown passes against the Ravens in Week 2. Without cornerback Jimmy Smith (suspended), the Ravens’ secondary will once again be tested.