Broncos-Ravens Preview

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles for yardage against Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


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Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson passes during the first half of an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)


At the beginning of the season, Lamar Jackson vs. Russell Wilson looked like a marquee matchup of quarterbacks.

Now that this Ravens-Broncos clash is actually upon us, it could just as easily end up as a defensive duel.

Baltimore hosts Denver on Sunday, and although the Ravens have played well enough to share first place in the AFC North, they haven't been all that explosive on offense lately. Of course, that's nothing compared to Denver's struggles. Wilson's Broncos haven't scored more than 23 points all season, and they've managed more than 16 just twice.

''Every day and every year you play this game, you get wiser, smarter and understand there's ebbs and flows. Any great athlete, they go through a lot of great moments but also have some tough ones,'' Wilson said. ''This is a moment of adversity. It's challenging and I don't run from it. You just keep working, you keep believing, you keep climbing.''

Wilson has thrown for only eight touchdowns this season, and the Broncos (3-8) has lost seven of their last eight.

As for Jackson, he's on pace to set a career high in yards passing, but he's had to navigate injuries to deep threat Rashod Bateman and other key offensive players. Baltimore (7-4) finally hit a couple big plays in the passing game in a loss at Jacksonville last weekend, but those have been sporadic.

Where Jackson has remained elite is in the running game, where he's been remarkably consistent through his career. Jackson's combination of passing and running allows the Ravens to move the chains, and although they've had issues in the red zone, their formula was successful enough to win four straight before last weekend's defeat.

Up until a wild fourth period against the Jaguars, Baltimore had allowed only 26 points in the previous 11 quarters. Now the Ravens go against Wilson.

''He's still got it. Yes, he's getting older, and he might have slowed down a little bit, but he still can move,'' linebacker Patrick Queen said. ''You have to be on your Ps and Qs with this guy. Like I said, he has an arm, he can run a little bit still, knows our defense, knows his reads, obviously, as a quarterback, all that stuff that quarterbacks do to try to look us off.''

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

The only time these two quarterbacks have faced each other was in 2019, during Jackson's MVP season. The Ravens beat Wilson's Seattle Seahawks 30-16. Jackson completed only nine passes but ran for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Baltimore beat Denver 23-7 last season. There was some contentiousness after that game because the Ravens decided to run a last-second play so they could tie a record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games. That infuriated Broncos coach Vic Fangio, but Denver has a new staff now and it's not clear if there will be much lingering bad blood.

ROSBURG RETURNS

Former Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg returns to Baltimore as Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett's game management advisor. Rosburg, who served 11 seasons as John Harbaugh's special teams coordinator and confidant before retiring in 2019, joined the Broncos after a series of operational miscues by Hackett, a first-time head coach, and his staff in September.

''Ever since Jerry got here, he's definitely helped me quite a bit through so many different areas,'' Hackett said. ''I really appreciated him here and he brings it from that culture and that organization. It's great to have a guy like that here.''

PRESSURE

The Ravens have had at least three sacks in seven straight games, and veteran lineman Calais Campbell needs one more for 100 in his career.

''Are we pleased with where our pass rush is at right now? Yes, I'd say so, but you watch the last game's tape, and there were situations where we made the quarterback hold the ball, and we didn't get home,'' defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said. ''There were situations where we won clean, and the ball was out. So, the thing that we're trying to do is marry that together so we're a little bit more consistent working together in that aspect.''

LIGHTNING ROD

Nobody in the league has faced as much criticism this season as Wilson, whose injury-riddled offense is scoring just 14.2 points per game - the worst average for a team heading into December since the 2000 Cleveland Browns (10.5). Hackett said he's impressed with how Wilson hasn't let any of the vitriol bother him.

''It's unbelievable - he doesn't get affected,'' Hackett said. ''He keeps coming out here working. He may work harder than I thought you could. I give him so much credit for that - just keeping his head down and keep working with all the different people that he's gone out on that field with. I just give him so much credit for that. With all the different lineups that we've had, he just keeps grinding, keeps trying to make a play and keeps fighting, no matter what.''

STOPPING THE RUN

The Ravens have held their last four opponents under 50 yards rushing. That equals the longest streak in one season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The other teams to do it were the 2013 Lions, 2006 Vikings, 2005 Patriots and 1993 Steelers.

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Dennis Allen Feb 2 7:30pm ET
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Dak Prescott Feb 2 7:20pm ET
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Dennis Allen Feb 2 7:20pm ET
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Joe Mixon Feb 2 7:10pm ET
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Marcus Mariota Feb 2 6:40pm ET
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Joshua Kelley Feb 2 6:30pm ET
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Mecole Hardman Feb 2 6:20pm ET
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Mike White Feb 2 4:10pm ET
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Desmond Ridder Feb 2 3:50pm ET
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Kadarius Toney Feb 2 3:30pm ET
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Patrick Mahomes Feb 2 3:20pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo Feb 2 3:13pm ET
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Desmond Ridder Feb 2 3:13pm ET
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Dynasty | There's no indication, either way, if the Falcons see sophomore Desmond Ridder as a potential starter in 2023 Dynasty Analysis: Apparently, no one "inside the building" is talking about Ridder or the opportunity to address the position via the draft. While some times prefer to put up smoke screens, others just go quiet as is the case with the Falcons. It's still early and with the Combine taking place later this month, there's a possibility more will emerge at that time. Ridder finished under-center in the team's final four games, producing a 63.5% completion percentage, throwing for 708 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. With added mobility, Ridder does possess an intriguing skillset and it's possible he could grow into the starting role with another year of experience but, at the same time, the team possesses the 8th-overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft and should have options if deemed necessary. Ridder is found as DLF's QB27 and this ranking hangs in the balance as the offseason plays out. A highly drafted rookie or the acquisition of a top free agent would send Ridder's dynasty stock off a cliff.

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