Can Ravens protect Joe Flacco?

Baltimore must avoid obvious passing situations and slow down Von Miller

Originally Published: January 7, 2013
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders

Joe Flacco Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Getty ImagesThe Baltimore Ravens will need to handle Denver's pass rush to have a chance to win.

Congratulations, Baltimore Ravens! It wasn't the prettiest game anyone has ever seen, but you made enough big plays this weekend to defeat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 and advance in the playoffs. Your reward? A flight to Denver and a game against the 13-3 Broncos, champions of their division, top seed in the conference and owners of an 11-game winning streak. And while Peyton Manning holds many records and MVP awards, the Broncos are just as fearsome on the other side of the ball. If the Ravens are to take the next step in the playoffs, they'll need to overcome the mighty Denver pass rush.

Whether you prefer conventional statistics or Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, the Broncos come out on top of the heap. They finished the regular season with 52 sacks, tied with St. Louis for best in the league, and their 8.7 percent adjusted sack rate (ASR) was best in football. It won't be easy for the Ravens to keep Joe Flacco upright under all that pressure -- their offense was 14th in ASR -- but there is a three-step plan for stifling Denver's pass rush.

Following that plan will be easier said than done, but it will be necessary if the Ravens are to move on to the AFC Championship Game.

Step one: Stop Von Miller