What happens when a great pass offense comes up against a great pass defense? They say that offense makes highlights but defense wins championships, don't they? This Sunday afternoon the unstoppable offense (Denver) meets the immovable object (Ravens). Something has to give, so which will it be?
The Denver Broncos' passing offense is ranked #1 overall, averaging over 339 yards per game, with QB Kyle Orton leading the way with over 1,400 yards in the first three games, nothing less than 300 and a high game of 476 yards in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He's thrown six touchdowns with three interceptions and a QB rating of 96.
Despite the loss of WR Brandon Marshall, Orton has not missed a beat and though he is generally not thought of a great passer with a rocket arm, his accuracy has always been his biggest asset and he is completing passes at an over 67% clip.
On the other hand, he has not faced a defense of the Ravens proportions.
Baltimore is ranked not only #1 overall, but #1 against the pass. They are giving up a total of only 235 yards a game, while only allowing a paltry 119 yards passing per game, almost a third of what Orton has been averaging. Although the Ravens are only the 20th best run defense so far in 2010, uncharacteristically allowing over 116 yards per game, they are seemingly in no danger of hurting that, as the Broncos rank dead last in rushing offense at a measly 55 yards per game on the ground.
All this adds up to the simple fact that if the Ravens can stop or even slow down the Broncos aerial attack, they should be able to win this game with their offense, which is much more balanced than the Broncos. The Ravens overall offensive rank is 22nd (306 yards/game) , their passing offense is ranked 15th (222 yards/game) while their usually effective run game is only ranked 24th at just under 90 yards per game.
Conversely, the good news is that Denver's defense is only rated 16th over (322 yards/game), their pass defense ranked 17th (221 yards/game), and their run defense is ranked 12th at just over 100 yards a game. However, as I've always said, the most important stat is points allowed and while the Broncos allow just over 21 points a game (20th in league), the Ravens are only giving up just under 14 points per game (6th in league).
All together, that should add up to a victory for Baltimore, if they can keep Orton in check, pressure him into throwing interceptions and not give up the big play or penalties in key situations. Underestimate Orton and he can burn you, but something tells me the Ravens will be prepared to show their home fans a great effort, perhaps as good as last year's 30-7 beat down of the previously undefeated Broncos. Sounds good, eh?