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Saturday, January 8, 2011
Flacco ready to handle playoff pressure?


Joe Flacco
Flacco
In his three-season NFL career, Joe Flacco has only thrown an interception every 65.6 pass attempts when facing five or more pass rushers. His total of seven picks against the extra pressure in that time is the fourth fewest in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts in those situations since 2008.

But now it’s the playoffs, and things have been a little different for Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens in the postseason.

Flacco has thrown an interception every 12.3 pass attempts in his postseason career when facing five or more rushers. He has also failed to throw a touchdown when facing the extra pressure, giving him a miniscule 6.7 passer rating.

Fortunately for Flacco and the Ravens, the Kansas City Chiefs brought five or more pass rushers on just 26.7 percent of opposing pass plays this season, under the league average of 33.3.

Flacco will have to watch for the Chiefs bringing a defensive back, because Kansas City had the NFL’s top pass defense in the regular season when they blitzed a defensive back.

The Chiefs led the league in opponents’ completion percentage, yards per pass attempt and passer rating when they brought a DB, not to mention that they didn’t allow a single touchdown this season when blitzing a defensive back.

Flacco’s passer rating when facing a blitzing defensive back this season was 95.5, seventh among quarterbacks with 50 or more attempts in that situation. That’s also nearly double what the Chiefs allowed when they blitzed a defensive back.

Jamaal Charles
Charles
On the other side of the ball, the focus will be on how Jamaal Charles handles the Ravens run defense. Charles averaged 6.4 yards per rush this season, best among running backs and tied for the 17th-best mark in NFL history, according to pro-football-reference.com.

Amazingly, Charles averaged the same 6.4 yards per rush when facing seven or more defenders in the box, also best in the NFL among players with at least 50 carries in those situations.

The Ravens defense, predictably, had another great year against the run, ranking fifth in the NFL, allowing 93.9 yards per game. If they load the box against the Chiefs, Charles will have his work cut out for him, as opponents averaged just 3.7 yards per rush against Baltimore when the Ravens had at least seven men in the box.

Let’s not forget the Ravens performance in last year’s Wild Card playoff game against the New England Patriots, when Baltimore held the Patriots to 64 yards rushing on 3.6 yards per rush in a 33-14 win.