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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
|BOLD Ravens 2015 Depth Chart - 2015|
And the defense:
|Ravens Defense Depth Chart - 2015|
|Base 3-4 Defense|
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.