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Broncos Ravens preview: Five Questions with Baltimore Beatdown

We asked Nathan from the Baltimore Ravens SB Nation home to answer some questions regarding our week 1 match up and his team. Read for some insights on the enemy from the fans who know them best!

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1) The big question this year to me is who is Joe Flacco going to throw the ball to? Your main Wide Receivers have left for greener pa$tures so other than Steve Smith and Denis Pitta who is out, who should the Denver fans be aware of that may surprise us down field?

Baltimore Beatdown: The thing about Joe Flacco is that he can make do with practically any receiver. During his time in Baltimore, we've never seen him paired up with a star wideout. In our offense, Flacco can make an impact with every and any receiver, and likes to spread the ball out. I think two names that will surprise many are Kamar Aiken and Crockett Gillmore. Aiken is a journeyman wide reciever who has finally settled down here. He's going to be the WR2 in place of the injured Breshad Perriman for a little while, and he looked really good last year in limited time. I think he'll make his case this week that he isn't 'unproven'. Gillmore is a favorite of many to break out this year. While the Ravens drafted Maxx Williams this year, the ball is going to Gillmore. If I recall, PFF ranked him as the #1 rookie TE last year. Add Flacco's love for tight ends and you have a recipe for a breakout.

2) So far, what do you think about Mark Trestman as your new Offensive Coordinator? He seems a strange fit for such a historically powerful running team like the Ravens. Have you seen anything in training camp or preseason that indicates the ball will continue to be run well and often?

Baltimore Beatdown: Throw everything you know or think about Trestman out of the window. Right now, it looks like the scheme he will be running is nowhere similar to the one he deployed in Chicago. The prevailing train of thought is that he will continue to build on the successful scheme used by Gary Kubiak last year. He will almost certainly add his own touches to the offense, but he's not trying to reinvent the wheel here.

3) We know all about your excellent pass rushers, but who do you have in the secondary that is going to be able to stop the Denver aerial attack? What match ups do you like there and why?

Baltimore Beatdown: This Ravens secondary could be one of the best in the league this year. Jimmy Smith, who missed most of last season on account of a Lisfranc injury, is a Top-10 corner. He's probably the best corner you've never heard of. New addition Kyle Arrington is a talented slot corner, and backup Rashaan Melvin proved to be a competent pass defender as well last year. Veteran Lardarius Webb could also prove to be good if he recovers from his various injuries. At free safety, Will Hill is one of the best in the league, and the group of Kendrick Lewis, Anthony Levine, and Terrence Brooks are all competent options at strong safety.

4) Who are your returners this year and how good do they look? If the kickoffs don't go out the back of the end zone, should we be worried?

Baltimore Beatdown: I know as much as the next person. The Ravens cut two of the favorites to take the job, Asa Jackson and DeAndre Carter. This left receiver Michael Campanaro as the only returner on the roster. The team could potentially call up someone from the practice squad, like return specialist Jeremy Ross or Charles James, (of Hard Knocks fame) but they haven't yet, and would need to do so quickly. It will be interesting to see who is returning kicks for us this Sunday. I bet the team wishes they didn't cut Jacoby Jones to save $750k in cap space.

5) Everyone's favorite softball question rounds us out: What are your expectations for this game? Final score?

Baltimore Beatdown: I've got the Ravens losing this one. I'm a realist, not a homer, and on paper, I just don't see the Ravens leaving Denver with a win. Denver is pretty strong everywhere across the board. Their OL is actually decent, and it won't be a Peyton Manning sackfest like some are thinking. The Denver linebackers are some of the best in the league, and will force the Ravens to pass the ball more than they'd like to. While the Ravens secondary is much improved, a matchup against Peyton Manning in September isn't an easy one for any defense. The only way I see the Ravens winning this one is if Joe Flacco can effectively throw the deep ball against the Broncos very suspect-looking safeties. This is going to be a little bit of a challenge without a true 'burner' on the field in Week 1. I foresee this game being somewhat close, but the Broncos will reign supreme Sunday. However, I do think the Ravens will go on a bit of a rampage in the following weeks. Final Score: Broncos 31 - Ravens 21


From Mile High Report I want to give Nathan a big "Thank You!" for sharing his time with us. His responses were very insightful and interesting to see.

I didn't know much about Gilmore or Arrington, so I'll be keeping my eye out on both of them to see what they have on Sunday afternoon. Getting Jimmy Smith back does make a huge difference. I know a lot of people don't know him, but I said last year when they lost him that it was a huge hit for their defense.

Nathan is very gracious in his predictions. I'm not feeling quite as comfortable as he is. Feel free to head over to Baltimore Beatdown to check out my responses to their questions as well...just remember you represent MHR if you are going to comment. Regardless of the past, keep it classy and follow their rules please.