In what is one of the best matchups of the Week 4 NFL slate, the Denver Broncos are hosting the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. These two teams have not played since 2018 when Baltimore held serve at home in a 27-14 win. Joe Flacco threw for 277 yards and a touchdown in the win, defeating Case Keenum. Denver has won three of the last five meetings between the two, although one of the losses came in double overtime back in 2013 in Denver.
Baltimore was very lucky to leave Detroit with a victory last week as Justin Tucker kicked a 66-yard field goal with no time left to get the victory. The Ravens accounted for nearly 400 yards of offense, but that only translated to 15 first downs in the victory. Lamar Jackson was the leading rusher with 58 yards on seven carries. The defense was good enough, as well, as they held down the Lions.
Meanwhile, Denver took care of business against the Jets by shutting them out 26-0 in their first home game of the season. New York turned the ball over twice and had just 162 yards of offense. Teddy Bridgewater had just six incompletions on offense as he spread it around to eight different receivers. The unfortunate thing is that they lost KJ Hamler for the season after already losing fellow wideouts Jerry Jeudy and DaeSean Hamilton for an extended time.
Baltimore (2-1) at Denver (3-0)
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 3 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Broncos -1
Three Things to Watch
This is Baltimore's third road tilt in its first four contests, with the other trips taking them to Las Vegas and Detroit. They will start a three-game homestand next week with a Monday night tilt with the Indianapolis Colts. We'll see if the travel gets to them at all, especially considering the elevation aspect of this matchup. Denver is playing its second straight at home after opening up the year with two games on the road. The Broncos continue their trek through the AFC North next week as they travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in Week 5.
2. Is this a mirage?
The Broncos have done everything right so far, and they can't fault the NFL schedule makers for giving them three straight winless teams to start the year. Denver has beaten all of them by double digits, with two of those victories coming on the road. All that said, this will be their first challenge of the season, even if the Ravens are banged up in certain places. I was a huge fan of Denver before the season began, but have we seen the real team yet? The Ravens are quite the opposite, as they've been tested already by the Raiders and Chiefs and split those contests. Will this difference in schedule strength be a factor on Sunday?
3. Exploiting weaknesses
Baltimore features the 30th-ranked pass defense, allowing 314.7 yards per contest. Facing Patrick Mahomes and Derek Carr early will certainly inflate those numbers, but Bridgewater isn't on their level. Teddy has four touchdown passes to zero interceptions and has not had a game with a completion rate below 75 percent yet. Of course, a ton of signal-callers would look good against the Jets, Giants, and Jaguars. Bridgewater has lost several key pass-catchers, but Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick are very reliable at WR while Noah Fant is a solid tight end. Jackson doesn't have the same set of weapons, considering only three players have double-digit receptions.
Jackson showed up on the injury report (back) on Wednesday. Figuring he'll be healthy and available for this one, it'll be interesting to see if the Broncos' early success was a product of the schedule or they are one of the better teams in the NFL. I tend to think it's a little bit of both, and home-field advantage will be a big help. Give me Denver to move to 4-0 on the season with a tight, defensive, low-scoring battle. Tucker and Brandon McManus could be bombing plenty of field goals in the elevation.
Prediction: Broncos 20, Ravens 16
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.