The Baltimore Ravens will look to end their trend of late-game collapses Sunday when they host the reeling Denver Broncos.
Baltimore has led by more than one score in all four of its losses this season, including squandering a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 28-27 loss against host Jacksonville last Sunday.
The Ravens (7-4) went just 2-for-5 in the red zone, as they settled for Justin Tucker field goals on their first three trips inside Jacksonville’s 20-yard line.
“It’s two things always: It’s going to be execution and scheme, and it’s scheme and execution,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked about the Ravens’ red-zone issues. “So, that has been a major focus for us as coaches to try to get the right plays up down there. At times, we’ve had the right plays and we haven’t executed them.”
Meanwhile, the Broncos (3-8) are a loss away from their sixth consecutive losing season. They are coming off a 23-10 setback to the host Carolina Panthers that was their third loss in a row and seventh in eight games.
“This is not where we wanted to be at this time in the season,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “None of us thought it would be like that, and that responsibility is fully on me.
“We, as a group, have to come together and try to find a way to win a football game.”
While the game appeared to be a marquee matchup between top quarterbacks at season’s outset, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Denver’s Russell Wilson haven’t played as well as expected.
Jackson was limited at practice on Wednesday due to a quad injury, but he’s expected to play on Sunday. He missed the final four games last year with an injured ankle. He has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,231 yards — an average of 202.8 per game — with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The 2019 MVP is also averaging 68.6 rushing yards a game.
Wilson has completed 58.9 percent of his passes and is averaging 236.9 yards this season, with just eight touchdown passes against five interceptions. After leading the Seahawks to the playoffs eight times in his 10 seasons in Seattle — including two Super Bowls — he was widely considered to be the key ingredient in the Broncos’ return to NFL relevance when he arrived in the offseason and signed a monster contract.
The Ravens own the league’s second-best rushing offense (162.7 ypg), which will look to exploit a Broncos’ run defense that ranks 19th in stopping the run (121.6 ypg.)
Kenyan Drake, though, (85 carries, 392 yards, 3 TDs) has rushed for only 48 yards the past two games, including just 2 against the Jaguars.
The Broncos will lean on former Raven Latavius Murray (358 yards, 4 TDs) after waiving leading rusher Melvin Gordon last week, largely because he had five fumbles this season.
For the Ravens, tight end Nick Boyle (illness), offensive tackle Daniel Faalele (illness), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (ankle) and offensive tackle Patrick Mercari all did not practice on Wednesday.
For the Broncos, linebacker Dakota Allen (hamstring), tight end Andrew Beck (hamstring), receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring), defensive tackle Jonathan Harris (knee) and receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) were among those who didn’t practice on Wednesday.
However, none of them have been ruled out for Sunday.