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Broncos vs Ravens preview: Unleash the Orange Rush to pass first road test

Here are our other keys to Sunday’s game to ensure the Broncos leave Baltimore 3-0.

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Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Two games, two come-from-behind wins for Case Keenum and the Denver Broncos.

Is Broncos Country set for a reboot of 2015, where it feels as if you just finished a marathon when the games are over? As Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann said after Denver’s 20-19 win over the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, “Need to get my John-Elway-80s-Broncos defibrillator out of the closet.”

Now comes the first road test of the 2018 season for Keenum and the Broncos (2-0). That comes on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens (1-1), where Denver is 1-4 all time. As Adam Malnati and I discussed on the latest MHR Radio Podcast, that doesn’t mean much for this game or team, but it is another factor to consider for a team playing in the “early” game on the East Coast. That might explain why the Broncos are 1-4 in Baltimore.

Offensive Rankings

Baltimore: Eighth in overall offense (397.0 yards), 23rd in rushing (91.5), seventh in passing (305.5) and third in points (35).

Denver: Fourth in overall offense (427.5 yards), second in rushing (157.0), 13th in passing (270.5) and tied for 13th in points (23.5).

Defense Rankings

Baltimore: Second in overall defense (263.0 yards), 15th in rushing (95.5), third in passing (167.5) and tied for sixth in points (18.5).

Denver: Fifthteenth in overall defense (339.5 yards), tied for sixth in rushing (78.0), 21st in passing (261.5) and tied for 14th in points (21.5).

Are we in line for another exhausting, down-to-the-wire day, or will Denver play its first complete game of the season? Here are our keys to the game.

Play to the strengths of the defense

In other words, do whatever it takes to ensure Von Miller and the Orange Rush wreck Joe Flacco/this game. One way to ensure that happens is to have the secondary play press coverage. Give the pass rushers more time to hit, pressure and sack Flacco. There’s no question the pass rush is the strength of the defense, so do whatever it takes to make it successful. The first two games have shown what this unit is capable of and how it can dominate a game. (The first two games have also shown Broncos Country needs to rock this badass shirt.) Unleash it in on Sunday in Baltimore — Orange Crush ——> Orange Rush! — Ian St. Clair

Quit turning the damn ball over

Case Keenum is now at 57 percent of last season’s interception total, and we’re only 12 percent of the way through the season. In fact, Keenum is currently throwing picks at a higher per game rate than Denver’s quarterback triumvirate from hell last year.

I get that it’s a small sample in a new offense, and I love the way the offense has moved the ball and responded to the turnovers, but it will be a key to watch until they prove they can play a clean game. — Jeff Essary

Bill Musgrave’s game plan

The Broncos offensive coordinator would be wise to keep the ball out of Keenum’s hands if the running game is chugging. Don’t be surprised if it does. Baltimore lost linebacker C.J. Mosley early in Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals and it left the Ravens susceptible to weakside cutbacks by Joe Mixon time and again. Even if Mosley plays, he’ll be gritting through pain, so Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay need to capitalize. As you see above, is second in the NFL right now running the football. — Just_JoRo

Control the game offensively

Denver has played the first two games in such a sloppy fashion that its 2-0 start could just as easily have been 0-2. A few long drives resulting in points, allowing the defense to stay rested will be essential. Especially being on the road, it will be important to keep keep the offense on the field to avoid allowing Baltimore to find offensive rhythm. — Adam Malnati

Cover John Brown

Turnovers are a gushing wound that you can fix by making sure that the opposing team is bleeding out quicker than you are. Admit which rookies need more time and replace them with their over-qualified backups. It is Miller, not Khalil Mack, who should be leading the MVP conversation right now. — Ian Henson

Don’t get too cute in the secondary

Woods has some great man coverage corners. He needs to man them up and let them beat the Ravens’ receivers one-on-one. Baltimore might have the best receiver group it’s had in years, but that’s not the same thing as saying they have a great one. Nick Boyle isn’t a significant threat at tight end, so let the safeties and linebackers do their jobs and keep those receivers locked down. The Broncos may give up a big play here and there based on the results so far, but if they keep Flacco uncomfortable and give the Orange Rush time to get to him, Denver will be halfway to victory. — Taylor Kothe

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What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?