Ravens at Broncos Under 44 1/2

Denver has a very good defense. Baltimore’s defense is being reinforced with key players returning. Given the injury situation to both team’s offenses, I see a low-scoring, field goal oriented game here. Both teams have outstanding kickers and the game is being played in Denver’s high mountain altitude. So look for a conservative strategy aimed at controlling field position.

Now to the injury situation and how that impacts things.

Baltimore doesn’t have any reliable running backs having lost J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. The Ravens also are without their best offensive lineman, left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Vic Fangio is a defensive guru. He’ll have a solid defensive game plan to limit Lamar Jackson, who is banged up himself having missed practice time this week due to a sore back.

Denver has played an easy schedule beating the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. Still, the Broncos’ defensive numbers are mind-boggling allowing just 8.7 points and 221.7 yards. That ranks first and second, respectively, in the NFL.

The Broncos have lost two of their four best wide receivers with Jerry Jeudy on the injured list and K.J. Hamler out for the year. Denver also has multiple offensive line injuries. The Broncos are down one starting guard with Graham Glasgow out and left guard Dalton Risner is questionable with an ankle injury. Rookie Quinn Meinerz could be thrust into action.

Teddy Bridgewater has put up strong numbers. But, again, consider the weak competition. Bridgewater is who he is – a mediocre-caliber starter far more game-manager than downfield threat.

The Ravens are well-coached defensively. They get back from the COVID-list defensive linemen Justin Madubuike, Justin Houston and Brandon Williams. Cornerback Jimmy Smith returned last week and now Marlon Humphrey is expected back fortifying the Ravens’ secondary.

Note, too, the tempo. These two teams rank among the top five in most rushing attempts. The Broncos are the slowest paced team in the league. The Ravens also are well below average in terms of tempo. So there are not going to be a lot of clock stoppages.

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