By: Ashley Anderson
With a little luck and some star-kicking power, the Ravens found themselves at 2-1 after three weeks. This week, they travel to Denver to take on the undefeated Broncos. Here are some pressing questions heading into the game.
3.) Will Justin Tucker break his own kicking record?
Okay, this is a bit facetious, but even the Ravens have commented on the possibility this week. When Tucker lined up for his 66-yard try against Detroit, it had a 10% chance of being good. With a kiss off the crossbar, it ended up going through the uprights to send Baltimore to a huge win. Tucker now holds the record for the longest kick in NFL history by a two-yard margin.
Now, with the thin air in Denver, there is speculation Tucker could hit from around 70-yards. Long snapper Nick Moore said Tucker often hits 65 to 70 yarders at practice. However, there is a big difference between practice and a real game. For a kick of that distance to have any chance of success, every aspect needs to be perfect.
During the 66-yard attempt, Tucker initially set his feet before deciding to take a step backward. That single step had the potential to disrupt the timing of everything. Moore had to get the perfect snap to Sam Koch, Koch had to hold it a fraction of a second longer, and the blockers had to keep Tucker clean and avoid costly holding or false start penalties. Oh, and Tucker still had to kick the ball so violently that it would have the distance to clear the bar.
Considering the minutiae of the whole operation, conditions would have to be pristine to even make the attempt. Given the ability for the opposing team to return a miss, the whole team would have to be on alert to avoid points going the other way. Chances are, the Ravens would only try for a kick that long if it were at the end of a half. In fairness, there is no better kicker in the league to try it.
2.) Can the Baltimore Ravens make Teddy Bridgewater uncomfortable?
Through three games, Teddy Bridgewater has only been sacked seven times. He has been able to stay comfortable in the pocket and is currently second in the league with a 76.8% completion rate. This week, however, he will be without his starting right guard, and his left guard is questionable.
Baltimore has struggled to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks so far. As a team, they only have five sacks, and no player has more than one. What was an area of concern prior to the start of the season has continued to be worrisome.
It also hurts that the Ravens’ secondary is not at full strength. After losing Marcus Peters near the end of training camp, they were also without Jimmy Smith for the first two weeks of the season. Chris Westry got hurt in Week 1, DeShon Elliott has been banged up and missed time, and now Anthony Averett is questionable.
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale can usually scheme pressure with a variety of personnel, and he may need to start getting more creative. At this point, the Ravens are not winning many of their one-on-one assignments, and tackling is an issue that has continued to rear its ugly head. If Bridgewater has time to work, he will dissect Baltimore’s secondary.
1.) Will the Baltimore Ravens end Denver’s Undefeated Streak?
Of course, the biggest question heading into this game is whether Baltimore can snap Denver’s three-game win streak. The Broncos are one of only five undefeated teams in the NFL, and they are trying to keep pace with the Las Vegas Raiders. Baltimore has had a very uneven season so far, and they could as easily be winless as they are 2-1.
The “real” Ravens have likely yet to emerge as they deal with a plethora of injuries. For the first time this season, their opponent is also greatly hampered by injuries, which levels the playing field. Still, Baltimore has to take advantage of the situation by exploiting mismatches, or that will not matter.
Denver’s three wins came against two rookie quarterbacks and Daniel Jones of the Giants. The Ravens boast a much more talented roster, but they cannot afford to play sloppy. If they have drops and penalties like they did in Detroit, the Broncos will send them home with a loss.