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Today's Bold Raven Claim: Healthy, We Would Have Beaten Denver.

There is reason to believe that the Ravens could have beaten Denver, with health intact. Here's the how and why.

The Broncos are really just the Texans in disguise, which bodes well for Baltimore.
The Broncos are really just the Texans in disguise, which bodes well for Baltimore.

A healthy 2015 Ravens team would have beaten the Broncos in the playoffs and represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, eventually winning it.

A bold claim indeed, but with many reasons to believe it.

Because these Broncos are essentially the HOUSTON TEXANS.

They have the same Head Coach, one that I can never root for; the same Offensive Coordinator, the same Defensive Coordinator. The Ravens faced this Houston team at it's best for a playoff game and a playoff-implicating game, and the results were positive. Of course, the players are different and merit a case-by-case comparison:

  • Denver has Manning, Houston had Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates. Remember, we are talking about this season's Manning, who had a low QBR of 44.96. Schaub of that Houston playoff year had a QBR of 66.63. Yates is harder to discern because he had a few garbage-time exposures that altered his rating, but it was still around 50, higher than Manning. Is this saying these guys are better? No. Playing better in the Kubiak system? Yes. I dare say so. ADVANTAGE: HOU
  • Denver has Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, Houston had a rookie J.J. Watt and  All-Pro Antonio Smith. As well as Mario Williams. Both teams could get to the QB although Houston's Linebackers had more number this way. Denver had the #1 defense, Houston had the #2 defense. A Super Bowl MVP gives the Denver D the nod. ADVANTAGE: DEN
  • Denver has Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, Houston had Arian Foster. Although Anderson had a good Super Bowl, Foster is far better and had about 500 more yards. Remember how dangerous he was?! ADVANTAGE: HOU
  • Denver has Aquib Talib, Chris Miller Jr., T.J. Ward, and Darian Stewart. Houston had Pro Bowler Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Danieal Manning, and Glover Quin. Don't scoff at the Texans crew. Their D was 3rd in the league vs. the pass. And even though I believe Darian Stewart is a liability, Denver's team might have been more stout. ADVANTAGE: DEN
  • Denver has KR Omar Bolden and K Brandon McManus; Houston had K Neil Rackers, and a young KR named Jacoby Jones. They had more return yards, a better return average, and more field goals. ADVANTAGE: HOU
In other words, the Houston teams that the Ravens beat had comparable talent, and the same scheme.

Here is what a healthy Ravens team looks like for this theory:
  • Joe Flacco in full effect.
  • Terrell Suggs doing his normal thing.
  • Breshaud Perriman flying down the field.
  • Steve Smith, Sr. good to go.
  • Michael Campanaro healthy and durable.
  • Jimmy Smith at 100%, foot and all.
  • Justin Forsett in normal, great form.
  • Jeremy Zuttah holding down the center.
  • Crockett Gilmore staying in play.
  • Chris Canty standing strong.
  • Will Davis in the mix.
  • Eugene Monroe, after much deliberating, is back on the block. Healthy.
It is so tempting to add DENNIS PITTA to this mix, but I will try to remain realistic. Will Davis is the replacement for Matt Elam, who, for the purposes of this theory, will remain on the injured reserve. Others like him are as follows:
  • Marlon Brown remains on IR. Daniel Brown takes his spot. That's right.
  • Lorenzo Taliaferro remains on IR. Terrence West takes his spot.
  • Waller and J. Wilson, all rookies except Perriman, remain on IR.
The last of the roster adjustments are for players added throughout the season due to injury. Note that Will Davis has been promoted to the full-season roster as the replacement for Elam's spot. Here are those adjustments:
  • Kaelin Clay is an early-season signee, replacing Jeremy Ross.
  • Chris Matthews is an early-season signee, replacing Chris Givens.
  • Shareece Wright is an early-season signee, replacing Kyle Arrington, if I may do that.
Now, for clarity's sake, let's look at the depth chart of this healthy Ravens team:

First, the offense:

BOLD Ravens 2015 Depth Chart - 2015
Regular Offense
WR SMITH, SR. Aiken Campanaro
TE Gilmore Maxx W. Boyle
LT Monroe Hurst
LG Osemele Urschel Jensen
C Zuttah Urschel
RG Yanda Urschel Jensen
RT Monroe Hurst
WR Perriman Matthews D. Brown
QB FLACCO Mallett Renner
FB Juszczyk
HB Forsett Allen West

And the defense:

Ravens Defense Depth Chart - 2015
Base 3-4 Defense
LDE Canty Guy Urban
NT Jernigan Lewis-Moore
RDE Williams Davis
LILB Moseley Brown
RILB D. Smith McClellan Orr
ROLB Upshaw Dumervil
CB Wright W. Davis
SS Hill III Trawick
FS Webb Brooks Lewis
CB J. Smith Levine

These Ravens could have beaten the Broncos in the playoffs.

The Ravens beat Houston twice in 2011, in crucial games, to get the playoff homefield advantage and then playoff win. Why wouldn't this Bold team, fully healthy, be able to beat an oddly balanced Denver team? If it were not for a non-called pass interference at the end of the game, they would have won, this season.

The difference with this Bold team would be on offense. Perriman would provide Baltimore with a matchup advantage because of his speed, which Stewart could not match across the top of the defense. Steve Smith would destroy the middle. Strong blocking would enable Forsett to find creases, and Flacco would make the blitz-happy Wade Phillips attack pay with dump-off passes to him.

On paper, Carolina probably had a far better team than Denver. On Sunday, Denver produced because of focus and maturity.

Baltimore a'int Carolina. They would beat the Broncos.