Ravens vs. Broncos: Keys to Victory

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Dec 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; A view of the pocket as Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) passes while tackle Eugene Monroe (60) and Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) and guard Marshal Yanda (73) and tackle Ricky Wagner (71) block in the first quarter of game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Key #1: The offensive line must be healthy and ready to play

It was an ugly, ugly preseason for the Ravens, make no mistake.  But one thing that isn’t getting much play as a reason for this poor performance is the offensive line.  Laden with injuries and devoid of depth, can this once stellar unit get it together for week 1?

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The Ravens’ starting five o-linemen are undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, in the entire NFL. And they return, completely intact, from last year.  But not once during the preseason did all five line up next to each other at the same time.

Right tackle Rick Wagner appears to be 100% recovered from last year’s Lisfranc injury, and left tackle Eugene Monroe is said to be ready for week 1 as well.  Various minor injuries have also limited Kelechi Osemele and Jeremy Zuttah at different points of the offseason program.

The Ravens must have their starting 5 in place and ready for week 1 against a stout Broncos’ defensive front, for two reasons.  One, they have to protect Joe Flacco and give him time to throw against stellar passing rushing linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.

They must also open up holes for the running game, which hasn’t played well this offseason.  Justin Forsett’s breakout 2014 season wasn’t a one man effort, after all.  He excels in the zone blocking offense when the o-line gives him room to run.  Without holes, no back is going anywhere.

Next: Will 2014's Achilles heel be 2015's savior?

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