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Broncos Roundtable: Will Denver conquer their first road test?

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 21, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Time to pack the bags and hit the road.

For the first time in the 2018 season, the Denver Broncos will leave Denver, and head to Baltimore for a matchup with the Ravens on Sunday.

Baltimore has been a house of horrors for the Broncos since the Ravens were established in 1996, going 1-5 on their road trips out to Maryland.

Will that continue on Sunday or will the Broncos remain undefeated?

The BSN Broncos crew breaks it down.



Come on — You won’t catch me betting against Phillip Lindsay ever. After Week 1, people said, “Well, he’s not going to surprise anyone anymore,” and then he went out in Week 2 and had an even better game.

After really putting his running skills on display in his first two opportunities, I expect Lindsay to get a chance to let his pass-catching skills shine on Sunday.

Until a team figure’s out how to stop him, I’ll answer yes to this question every single time.


Why not? — Phillip Lindsay has proven every single person on this plant wrong so far with what he can and can’t do. I’m not going to doubt him anymore.

Through two weeks, Lindsay is on pace to rush for 1,424 yards on limited touches. He’s third in the league in rushing. Until he proves otherwise, the Broncos should continue to increase his workload. He’s certainly earned it.


Here’s the thing about Phil — Phillip Lindsay isn’t your typical back. He isn’t going to get 20 carries a game out of the I. Bill Musgrave has the luxury of moving him around and using him in different spots. Game planning against guys like Darren Sproles is easier said than done. Lindsay is that type of back.

Up by double digits or down it doesn’t matter, run or pass, outside or inside, Lindsay will get his touches in ways that defenses can only plan on so much.

The added advantage against the Ravens is inside linebacker C.J. Mosley ‘s dealing with a knee injury, and he’s Baltimore’s best backer in coverage. Expect Musgrave to test Mosley early, and no one is better suited to exploit the backer’s injury than Lindsay.



Big numbers — Assuming that turnovers will be a big topic of discussion here, I’ll go a different route. I want to see Keenum light it up. Go take over a game, find the uncoverable Emmanuel Sanders, hit the big play and carry the Broncos to a victory.

We saw it in training camp over and over again, it’s time to take it to the field. Forget game manager, I want to see Keenum go out there and be a game winner.


More touchdowns than turnovers — Let’s be real. Case Keenum isn’t Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. But he doesn’t need to be. As Vance Joseph has said countless times, he needs to be an effective game manager.

Through two weeks, he’s done enough to win, but moving forward his current three touchdowns to four interceptions just simply won’t cut it, especially on the road. Keenum doesn’t need to light up the scoreboard; he just needs to have more touchdowns than interceptions, even if it’s just one touchdown.


Efficiency — Winning on the road is just different. This is where Keenum’s veteran presence should pay off. I want to see him poised under pressure.

More than avoiding turnovers, he needs to pick his spots knowing when to go after big plays and be aggressive and when to live another day.

Most importantly, Keenum needs to do better on third down. He was one of the league’s best in converting third downs a year ago and this season he’s been even better on third-and-long—completing 41 percent. Where he needs to improve is on third-and-medium, where he’s only completing 16-percent of his passes. In 2017, he was above 50 percent. On the road, 16 percent won’t cut it.



John Brown —Sure, the Ravens have big names like Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, Eric Weddle and Michael Crabtree, but the average age of those guys is a whopping 33 years old. For reference, the Denver Broncos only have one player over the age of 33 on their entire roster, Adam Jones (35), and other than Domata Peko (33) the oldest Bronco after that is 31-years old.

Onto Brown, he appears to be the new favorite deep threat for Flacco. Through two games he’s got 136 yards and two touchdowns to his name to go along with a 19.4 yards-per-catch average.

The Ravens want to go over the top of your defense and Brown looks to be the guy they want to do it with.


Terrell Suggs — Vance Joseph said it: Terrell Suggs is a future Hall of Famer. If the Broncos let Suggs loose, it will be a long day for Keenum and the Broncos.

At 35 years old, Suggs still posses a threat off the edge as he racked up 11 sacks last season and has one through two games this year. Right now, he’s no Von Miller, but it would be a massive mistake to not give extra attention to the seven-time Pro Bowler.


Eric Weddle — If Keenum throws another interception in this one, my money is on Weddle, the veteran free safety. Of Keenum’s four interceptions this season, three have been to safeties, as the signal caller has been a bit aggressive attacking double coverage. Weddle isn’t one you want to test with his 29 career interceptions.

Baltimore’s other safety, Tony Jefferson, is dangerous, too, so watch out for those two safeties, they can be trouble.



Bring. The. Heat. — As mentioned above, Flacco wants to go for the big one. With the Broncos’ secondary looking a bit shaky in the early going, it’s up to Joe Woods and his front seven to bring the fire at Flacco so he never gets a chance to hit that back foot, step up and let it fly.

Unlike Derek Carr last week, Flacco will take multiple five and seven-step drops, allowing Woods time to draw up creative ways to free up Von Miller and the boys.

If Denver’s pass rush is truly one of the elite units in the game, they’ll have a heyday this week.


Don’t get beat over the top — Last week against the Raiders, Denver’s defense allowed Derek Carr to complete short passes all day long. They’ll take a similar approach this week, although they’ll want to make sure Joe Flacco finishes the day with a lower completion percentage than Carr’s 91 percent he had last week.

Flacco and the Ravens passing attack is built to go deep, and they’ll certainly try. Denver has been beat deep a few times in the air already this season. It will be key that Joe Woods’ unit limits Flacco’s successful downfield shots.


Watch out for the Flacco deep ball — The Ravens’ run game doesn’t strike much fear in opponents, and given how well the Broncos’ front has played against the run this season, they’re even less scary. That means you can play with six to seven defenders in the box and dedicate a safety deep to avoid getting burned by Joe Flacco’s big arm.

Offensively, Denver needs to exploit a banged up Ravens defense, attacking Mosley and Brandon Carr while star cornerback Jimmy Smith is still suspended. It’ll also be crucial to avoid the Ravens’ edge rushers, Terrell Suggs and Matt Judon, by using quick hitters and screens to really keep them on their toes.

The best solution would be spreading out the Ravens, testing their cornerback depth and attacking their linebackers with Lindsay and the tight ends in the passing game.



Case Keenum carries them — I have a feeling this is going to be a shootout, and franchise quarterbacks can carry their team in a shootout, even if it’s on the road.

Keenum needs to keep a clean stat sheet from a turnover standpoint while also going toe-to-toe with Flacco from a big-play standpoint. If the QB can light it up for Denver, they’ll be alright.


They win the turnover battle — It’s obvious, yes, and I won’t be saying it every week. But this week is different; it will decide the game.

Denver has got away without winning the turnover battle and still coming out with the win in two-straight weeks, but both of those were at home. On the road, especially in Baltimore, it will be key to at least have an even turnover margin, but they’ll win if they finish on the plus side.

On the road, as Case said it, “You need to make sure everything is clean.”


Flacco doesn’t hit any bombs — Yes, winning the turnover battle is crucial on the road, but against the Ravens the back-seven needs to get going. No more miscues are allowed. So far it’s been with completions over the middle, in the intermediate game.

However, Justin Simmons has allowed more yards than any DB on the Broncos and more touchdowns. Letting Flacco do that in Week 3 could spell doom for Denver.



Bradley Chubb — Anybody can key in on Von Miller and try to take him out of the game, but most offensive coordinators don’t want to give extra help on both sides.

I have a feeling Baltimore is going to force Chubb to beat them before they react to his pass-rushing prowess. Games like this are why Denver selected Chubb fifth overall. If he can win some one-on-one battles, he has a chance to make it a long day for the Ravens’ offense.


Brandon McManus — McManus has been the team’s most underrated player through the first two weeks of the season.

He’s the only kicker in the league to make two 50-plus-yard field goals — which proved to be huge in their Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks — and he’s only one of ten kickers in the league to not miss a single kick this year. Oh, he also hit the game winner with six seconds left against the Raiders.

That’ll need to continue in Baltimore. In what will likely be a close game, McManus will need to continue to have ice flowing through his veins and be unfazed by Baltimore’s college-like atmosphere, as Vance Joseph said it was.

One mistake, even a missed extra point, could prove to be too difficult to overcome — as Oakland found out the hard way against the Broncos.


Phil Lindsay — Not so much running the ball — where Baltimore’s defense hasn’t been as good as they’ve been defending the pass — but with the Mosley injury, Lindsay should get at least five targets in the passing game, and don’t be surprised if at least one is a house call.

Also, Lindsay’s just been a stud so far, and I don’t expect him to slow down in this one.


Ryan (1-0)

Broncos 31, Ravens 28 — Originally, I had this score flipped around, holding on too close to the fact that I penciled it in as a loss before the season.

The more I watched the Ravens this week, though, the more I thought Denver had the advantage in the matchup on paper. The Broncos will have a lot to overcome in a tough environment, but if their playmakers come to play, they should win.

Side note: Listen to the podcast for another—not as serious—reason I took the Broncos.

Zac (1-0)

Broncos 23, Ravens 20 — On paper, the Broncos should win this game. Through two weeks, they are simply the better overall team. However, Denver is 1-5 in Baltimore since the Ravens were established in 1996 with their only win coming under Peyton Manning.

I would not be surprised for a second if the Broncos are 2-1 following this game, but I can’t ignore Denver’s resilience late in games through the first two weeks.

Andre (1-0)

Broncos 21, Ravens 17  — Boy, this is a hard one as it’s impossible to know who the Ravens really are. Beating the Buffalo Bills means nothing and Thursday night games are always a bit wacky. Traveling out east for an 11:00 AM MST game won’t be easy and potential rain could play into Baltimore’s hand.

Vegas has Baltimore favored by 5.5, which seems rich, though this was the first loss I predicted in our preseason roundtable.

Given the injuries, I think the Broncos pull this off. It’ll be close, it won’t be pretty, and the defense will have to step up in coverage, but the Broncos are the better team, and on the road, their veterans step up to get the ‘W.’

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