Gut Reaction: Week 15 - Broncos @ Ravens

I believe it was scholar Michael Gerard Tyson who once said: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."

The Ravens had a plan. That plan probably included a healthy dose of Ray Rice.

Then they found themselves bloodied to the tune of 17-0. The plan shifted to the arm of Joe Flacco.  And we all know that's no plan at all.

Somehow the Ravens confused this year's Broncos with Denver teams of the past.  It began with a push of Eric Decker by Cary Williams and didn't stop until Decker beat Williams like he was Gerry Cooney.  The rest of the Ravens were pushed all over the yard and buried.

The Ravens are no longer the physical bullies they believe they are.  After most of the plays in the first half, the Ravens were pushing and shoving like it was the year 2000--you know, when Ray Lewis might really murder you.

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Tracy Porter proves God works through Broncos

Last night, Tracy Porter tweeted the following:

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Open Thread: Sunday Week 15

A Patriots victory would help them keep pace with the Broncos at 11-3; a San Francisco win would leave Denver as the number-two seed in the AFC, and in control of their own destiny, with the Browns and Chiefs coming to SAF@MH to close out the season. 

By winning today in Baltimore, Denver has already ensured itself of being no worse than the three seed; if the Niners pull off the upset, the Broncos will be in the driver's seat for a coveted first-round bye. Enjoy the game, and Go Niners!

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Suggs will play, Lewis won’t Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans. As TJ noted last night, several factors are making today's showdown in Baltimore appear to be a lopsided one in Denver's favor.

The more valuable Terrell Suggs (who just married the woman whom he allegedly dragged alongside his car at a high speed recently) will play today, but Ray Lewis - the importance of whose leadership has not deteriorated along with his physical skills - will not play.

Fellow starting inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is questionable, and if he does not play, the Ravens will have Josh Bynes wear the defensive headset in what would be his first NFL start.

On the other side of the ball, there's someone new calling the plays for Baltimore, even if there's some debate whether the move will pay immediate dividends or not.

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STDL: Broncos can lock up three-seed with win at Baltimore

The Broncos need to win tomorrow if they're to keep alive any hopes of gaining a top-two seed and first-round bye in this year's playoffs.

But beyond those loftiest of goals, a Denver victory tomorrow would be significant on its own, as it would ensure the Broncos of being no worse than the AFC's number-three seed in the playoffs. Denver would move to 11-3, drop Baltimore to 9-5, and also own a head-to-head tiebreaker over them, were both teams to finish with 11 wins.

The difference between a three and four seed may not seem that great at first glance, but without knowing how the rest of the AFC will shake out, it certainly could end up being a big deal.

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It’s time to talk gun control Lard

Good Afternoon, friends. We've never been shy about touching upon hotly debated issues here, but have only done so when prompted by words and actions from NFL figures.

Today is different though, because for the past 24 hours, it's been impossible to go more than a few minutes without thinking of the 20 small children who were murdered yesterday. That's murdered, mind you.

Immediately following the horrors in Aurora, and again yesterday, the airwaves and social media have been strewn with claims that it's "too soon" or "not the time" to discuss our nation's status as the mass-murder, assault-death capital of the developed world, and what must be done to fix that.

No day is better or worse to have this conversation, because by the time the self-appointed arbiters of national dialogue deem it's appropriate to broach the topic, we're onto our next mournful episode. Sadly, there's no law of nature that says today won't bring the next tragedy.

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Fat Camp: Why Elvis Dumervil has simplified his pass-rush repertoire

Happy Friday, friends.  We got a question about the productivity of Elvis Dumervil from a reader the other day, and along with Doc, I am coming off the other edge to help answer it.  It’s hard to contain a rush that’s coming off of both sides.

Doc took the position that Elvis has fine numbers, and I agree with him completely.  I’m going to come from the schematic angle, and talk about how team strategy is directly feeding into his numbers, and the tactics he’s employing.

If I use the term Wide-9, what does that mean to you?  Over the last couple of years, NFL talking heads have decided that it was a scheme that was being employed in Philadelphia.  In the true sense of the term, Wide-9 simply means that a defensive player is aligned on the outside shoulder of a second TE, if there were one.  He’s very far outside the offensive tackle. 

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Lewis and Suggs practicing; Woodyard and Kuper on track

According to Sun reporter Aaron Wilson, linebackers Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, and Dannell Ellerbe are all practicing for the second straight day, although it's not clear Ellerbe will play Sunday.

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Has Elvis Dumervil been effective in 2012?

In a column posted yesterday at Pro Football Focus, Ben Stockwell suggests that, outside of favorable matchups against the Chargers, Elvis Dumervil hasn’t done a very good job of rushing the passer this season.

It even discusses the idea that potential opponents might just try and shut down Miller (good luck there) and let the rest of the line try and beat them. I think that in this case, even PFF’s own stats show this to be a weak argument. So does the film.

In this explanation, I used some numbers that I took out of PFF's own website - an article from earlier in the week on pass rushing productivity on third and fourth downs. According to PFF, Miller is second in the league in total late down pressures, which isn’t surprising. Who’s tied for tenth? Elvis Dumervil, the player who supposedly isn’t performing well. This ignores, incidentally, the fact that Von and Elvis have each forced six fumbles - which only serves to expand the impact of their pressures.

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Last AFC spot basically down to Bengals/Steelers Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The AFC playoff picture got slightly clearer last night, as Cincinnati (8-6) pulled away in the second half of a 34-13 slopfest, turning over the Eagles (4-10) five times along the way.

The win puts them a half-game ahead of Pittsburgh, whom they'll visit next Sunday. A Steelers loss this week at Dallas would give the Bengals a chance to clinch a playoff spot next weekend with a win over Pittsburgh.

Cincy and Pittsburgh are essentially in a battle for the AFC's sixth seed, with an outside shot at overtaking Baltimore for the AFCN title.

The Jets have a slim chance at a wild card, while the Bills, Dolphins, Browns, and Chargers are essentially holding lottery tickets. To make the playoffs, San Diego needs to win out, have four other games go their way, and not be joined at 8-8 by Cleveland.

Meanwhile, a Denver win at Baltimore would almost ensure they'd be at least the number-three seed, and maintain their hopes of gaining a first-round bye.

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