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Ravens News 9/20: Life without Mosley, Denver’s gameplan and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Imagining Life Without C.J. Mosley Isn’t Pretty - John Eisenberg

With Mosley sidelined, the Ravens are getting a glimpse of what life would be like without him. They can’t like the picture.

The defense had major problems without him in Cincinnati, allowing touchdowns on four straight possessions after he left the field. The unit did gather itself and make a series of stops as the Ravens rallied, but still, it was a rough night overall.

In my mind, that calculus shouldn’t change even if Young plays well and the Ravens win some games without Mosley in the coming weeks, starting this Sunday against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium. Anything can and does happen in today’s unpredictable NFL. Formulating an opinion on any issue from the results of a few games is a dangerous idea.

I’ve heard and seen it argued that a player should be more dominant than Mosley, produce more unforgettable moments, to warrant the mega-contract he wants and is sure to receive. It’s a fair point to consider.

Eisenberg seemingly contradicts himself when he draws conclusions from the four drives immediately after Mosley was injured but later cautions against considering Kenny Young a viable replacement based on only a few games.

Run stuffing inside linebackers are becoming less valuable in today’s NFL and C.J. is showing signs of becoming injury prone. Will the Ravens ‘right player, right price’ mantra apply to their defensive centerpiece next spring?

2018 NFL Week 3 Picks Against the Spread - Will Brinson

Ravens (-5) vs. Broncos

Weird line here with the Broncos being 2-0 and the Ravens being 1-1, but the Ravens are just the better team, have a good home-field advantage and might match up kind of well with the Broncos defense, in terms of Joe Flacco being able to push the ball downfield to guys like Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Denver is quietly much better against the run but perhaps not great against the pass two games into the season.

This is a difficult game to peg. The trends favor the Ravens but the player matchups favor the Broncos. Roughly 60-percent of early wagers against the spread have been placed on Denver.

4 stats to know as Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos prepare to square off in Week 3 - Aaron Kasinitz

The Broncos have the NFL’s best third-down defense through two weeks; they’ve held opponents to a 22.7 percent conversion rate

Outside linebacker Von Miller leads the Broncos’ group of edge rushers that couples with a strong secondary to make life difficult for opponents on third downs. The Raiders and Seahawks — two teams with accomplished starting quarterbacks — combined to convert just 5 of 22 third-down opportunities against the Broncos over the first two weeks of the season.

The Broncos’ offense ranks fourth in the NFL in yardage, but quarterback Case Keenum is tied for the league lead with four interceptions

The Ravens have a knack for making mistake-prone quarterbacks pay, particularly when playing at home, and they’re 9-1 since the start of the 2017 season when they win the turnover battle. So Baltimore should be in good shape if it can’t intercept Keenum a couple times. If not, the Broncos have the offensive tools to cause the Ravens fits.

Third down efficiency on offense and turning over Case Keenum are the primary keys to victory.

Broncos vs Ravens preview: Unleash the Orange Rush to pass first road test - Ian St. Clair

Play to the strengths of the defense

In other words, do whatever it takes to ensure Von Miller and the Orange Rush wreck Joe Flacco/this game. One way to ensure that happens is to have the secondary play press coverage. Give the pass rushers more time to hit, pressure and sack Flacco. There’s no question the pass rush is the strength of the defense, so do whatever it takes to make it successful. The first two games have shown what this unit is capable of and how it can dominate a game.

Bill Musgrave’s game plan

The Broncos offensive coordinator would be wise to keep the ball out of Keenum’s hands if the running game is chugging. Don’t be surprised if it does. Baltimore lost linebacker C.J. Mosley early in Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals and it left the Ravens susceptible to weakside cutbacks by Joe Mixon time and again. Even if Mosley plays, he’ll be gritting through pain, so Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay need to capitalize.

If the Broncos do deploy this recommended game plan, it will be a great opportunity for Brandon Williams to prove his worth by dominating the line of scrimmage and for Michael Crabtree to prove he can beat press coverage.