In preparing for Sunday’s matchup against the Denver Broncos, Mile High Report’s Ian St. Clair and I sat down for a small Q&A for one another’s publications.
1. The Broncos have been plastered across headlines all season for their woes. What can you tell us about the situation of this season for the Broncos?
A dumpster fire inside of a burning building with a sun that melts the eyes of everyone who catches a glimpse. Too extreme? That may not be extreme enough. To state the obvious, no one in the Broncos’ organization or Broncos Country saw this coming. Initially, there was excitement and enthusiasm, and it has been replaced with apathy. Most fans just don’t even care anymore because nothing changes. No one is held accountable. The losing is now accepted and this franchise has become a joke.
2. Is there confidence this team can right the ship? What would need to happen either for this season, or the future?
The only modicum of hope comes from the fact that Nathaniel (will never) Hackett will not be around after this season. He should already be gone, but that’s a completely different topic (see above: How the losing is now accepted). Cast a wide net for the next head coach. Use the Walmart money to the franchise’s benefit. Bring in an offensive coordinator who can mesh with Russell Wilson. Also use that money to load up on the offensive line. But most important: Get rid of the losing culture. Until that’s gone, nothing will change.
3. For all the talk about the offense, Denver’s pass defense is ranked No. 4 by DVOA. Who has been standing out among this unit and are there any particular weaknesses you see?
Up until the last two weeks, it was Pat Surtain II. The second-year cornerback has had back-to-back rough games. But he’s the face of this defense and the best player on this defense. He’ll be fine. The other player is Dre’Mont Jones. The Broncos defensive lineman has been incredible this year. Jones has been able to get consistent pressure in both the passing and running games. He’s been a game-wrecker. I’d also throw in the interior of Denver’s defensive line led by D.J. Jones. In terms of weaknesses, it’s the run defense. To narrow down even more, containing the edge of the running game. Based on how Josh Jacobs and D’Onta Foreman shredded this defense, I’d expect the same from Lamar Jackson, the running backs and the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL.
4. Who are two Broncos players (one offense, one defense) Ravens fans should pay specific attention to in this game that aren’t household names?
If only there were a player on offense to pay attention to. No one should pay attention to the Broncos offense because it will literally do nothing against the Baltimore defense. So let’s go with two players on defense: Baron Browning and Damarri Mathis. Browning has had flashes this season, especially before his injury. He’s had some comparing him to Von Miller. Browning is one of the young defensive players who could turn into a stud. As for Mathis, he’s a rookie cornerback who has had the typical rookie struggles. But he’s also shown the mental toughness not to have it break him. Surtain will get right and will remain one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. For this defense to up its game even more, it’ll need a secondary cornerback like Mathis to emerge.
5. The Ravens are heavy favorites in this game at -8.5 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Do you agree with this line? Where would you place it?
There’s no surprise Baltimore is a heavy favorite. I’d actually make the number even higher, though. I’d put it somewhere in the 10.5-11 range. And now that legal sports betting has arrived in Maryland, bet the under on Sunday. The under is 10-1 in Broncos games this season and it’s a safe bet to happen again.