Stats & Info: Baltimore Ravens

MNF Preview: Ravens-Saints

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24

Sean Gardner/Getty ImagesJimmy Graham and the New Orleans Saints host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football
The New Orleans Saints (4-6, first in NFC South) host the Baltimore Ravens (6-4, last in AFC North) on "Monday Night Football" at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN.

Here are the top 10 stats to know heading into the game.

1. Joe Flacco and the Ravens are 3-0 and averaging more than 38 points per game against the NFC South this season.

2. Flacco has a Total QBR of 97 in those three games against the NFC South, the second-highest by a quarterback against one division in the last five seasons (minimum 50 attempts).

3. Flacco has 10 touchdowns and five interceptions on passes throws 15 yards or more downfield (three touchdowns, nine interceptions in 2013)

4. Torrey Smith’s five touchdown receptions since Week 6 were tied for the fourth-most in the NFL entering Week 12

5. Justin Forsett rushed for a season-high 112 yards in the Ravens' last game (Week 10) and is averaging the most yards per rush among running backs this season at 5.4 (Jamaal Charles is second at 5.2).

6. The Saints have lost two straight home games and are trying to avoid their longest home losing streak since they lost four in a row across the 2006-07 seasons.

7. The Saints have won 12 straight home games in prime time (7 PM or later). According to Elias, that’s the longest streak since the 1970 merger.

8. Drew Brees has won seven straight home starts on "Monday Night Football", one win shy of the all-time record held by Peyton Manning.

9. Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in 30 straight games, the third-longest active streak in the NFL behind Manning (49 games) and Tony Romo (37 games).

10. Mark Ingram rushed for 67 yards last week but still leads the NFL in rushing since Week 8 with 459 yards (Charles is second with 402).

Matchups to watch: Patriots at Ravens

December, 20, 2013
Doug Kapustin/MCT/Getty ImagesThe Ravens beat the Patriots in last season's AFC Championship.
Six teams have played the New England Patriots at least five times in the past six years (including the playoffs). Among those six (New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts), only Baltimore (3-3) has a .500 record against the Patriots.

Considering New England’s 70-25 record against the rest of the league over that span, .500 is a success. The Ravens have taken two of the three postseason meetings between the teams, including last season’s AFC Championship.

Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s Week 16 matchup:

As the QB goes...
Simply put, the Ravens have received better quarterback play in recent meetings against the Patriots.

Baltimore has picked off nine of Tom Brady's passes since 2008, tied with the Dolphins for most by any team. Miami has also played twice as many games (12) and allowed 14 more touchdowns vs. the Patriots than Baltimore.

The Ravens are a different defense from the unit that led the league in defensive expected points added from 2008-12 (+434). Baltimore’s +29.8 defensive EPA ranks eighth in the league, not as dominant as year’s past.

Patriots pass rush vs. Ravens offensive line
The Patriots are reliant on a four-man pass rush (they rush four men 75 percent of the time, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL), but their defensive line has struggled this season.

New England has controlled the line of scrimmage on 43 percent of pass plays this season, last in the league (for an explainer on how that is calculated, click here. Even before Vince Wilfork’s Week 4 injury ended his season, the Patriots defensive line only controlled 44 percent of pass plays. That’s well below league average (50 percent), a number New England has not met in its last nine games.

The player whose presence is missed the most isn’t Wilfork, but Tommy Kelly. When New England had Kelly on the field, it controlled the line on slightly more than half of opposing dropbacks. Without Kelly, the number drops to only 41 percent.

Every team wants to pressure the quarterback, but for New England it’s especially important. The Patriots defense has the third-best Total QBR allowed when quarterbacks are under pressure, but the fourth-worst when quarterbacks aren’t pressured. The 26-spot difference in rank is the biggest in the league.

Ravens CB vs. Patriots WR
Baltimore’s secondary has defended or intercepted 50 passes this season, tied for fourth most in the league, with Lardarius Webb’s 18 the second most among players. Only the Ravens and Browns have three defensive backs with at least 10 pass breakups or interceptions.

Baltimore is a top-10 defense in completion percentage and Total QBR allowed against at least three wide receivers, and has excelled defending slot receivers.

Brady’s weapons last week were all slot receivers. Of Brady’s 55 passes against Miami, 43 went to Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce or Austin Collie.

Ray Rice vs. Patriots LB
Ray Rice has topped 125 yards from scrimmage in four of his six games against New England, but New England held him to 70 yards from scrimmage and 3.0 yards per opportunity (targets and rushes) in last year’s AFC Championship. Both were the lowest of his six games against the Patriots.

Rice’s recent form has been dismal. His 3.1 yards per rush ranks 46th among qualified rushers, while no qualified running back has averaged fewer yards after contact per rush than Rice (1.1). He’s averaged 4.2 yards per target, 44th in the league among 50 backs with at least 20 targets.

Is facing New England what Rice needs to get back on track? The Patriots defense has allowed 150.4 yards from scrimmage per game by running backs, seventh most in the league. With no Jerod Mayo, look for Dont’a Hightower on early downs and possibly Dane Fletcher in sub packages to be tasked with slowing Rice.

Keys to victory: Justin Tucker 18, Lions 16

December, 17, 2013
What were the keys to the Baltimore Ravens' 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions on "Monday Night Football"?

Tucker’s perfection
Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was 6-for-6, including the 61-yard, game-winning field goal.

Here’s the best of our notes from his amazing game, with help throughout from the Elias Sports Bureau:

• Tucker has now made 33 straight field goal tries. That’s the longest current streak in the NFL.

• Tucker had at least one make from 20-something, 30-something, 40-something, 50-something and 60-something yards in this game. Tucker is the first player in history to kick field goals in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s in the same game.

• The game-winner set a team record both for record length and for the number of field goals made by a Ravens kicker in a game. Tucker already had a game in which he made five field goals this season. He’s the only kicker in the NFL with multiple games with at least five made in 2013.

• Tucker’s field goal was the second-longest in "Monday Night Football" history. Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made a 63-yarder in 2011, which at the time tied the NFL record for longest field goal.

• This wasn’t the first time that the Lions lost a game on a late field goal of great distance. New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey beat them with a 63-yarder with no time remaining on Nov. 8, 1970. That kick still stands as the longest go-ahead field goal in the final minute of a game in NFL history.

• Tucker has six field goals of at least 50 yards this season, tied for the most in the NFL with Graham Gano and Dan Bailey.

• Lastly, Tucker mentioned that he hoped fantasy football owners appreciated the benefit of owning him on their teams. That was said for good reason. Tucker’s 150 fantasy points (in standard scoring) are now the most in the NFL for a kicker this season.

A multitude of mishaps
The Lions had a late lead, but missed out on many opportunities earlier in the game that could have given them a comfortable advantage.

The Lions have committed at least three turnovers in five straight games. The only team with a longer streak this season is the Giants (Week 1 -6)

The Lions had three dropped passes. Calvin Johnson had two of them, giving him a career-high nine for the season.

The Lions committed five defensive penalties. They’ve now committed 48 this season, tied for the most in the NFL.

The Lions gave up a 27-yard pass on a third-and-15 on the Ravens' final drive. Over the past 13 seasons, NFL teams have converted on only 10 percent of third-and-15 or longer situations.

But this would be a day in which longshots would pay off. Fans of Tucker know that.

Matchups to watch: Ravens at Lions

December, 16, 2013
The winner of tonight’s game can solidify their grasp on a playoff spot, and the loser could potentially be on the outside looking in. Here are the key matchups to watch entering the Week 15 edition of Monday Night Football between the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions.

Matthew Stafford vs Joe Flacco in red zone
Joe Flacco completed 4-of-5 red zone passes last week for three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown pass with the perfect touch to Marlon Brown. Getting Dennis Pitta back gives Flacco another red zone weapon.

Pitta caught a touchdown on fourth-and-goal last week, and has caught 75.0 percent of his red zone targets dating back to last season, including the playoffs. Overall, Flacco ranks in the top 10 in touchdown passes (16) and Total QBR (78.8) inside the 20 yard line this year.

On the other side, Matthew Stafford is tied for second in the NFL with 19 red zone touchdowns and tied for the fifth-best Total QBR (88.9). Stafford has thrown 16 of those 19 touchdowns to the collection of Kris Durham (6’6”), Joseph Fauria (6’7”), Brandon Pettigrew (6’5”) and Calvin Johnson (6’5”).

Both quarterbacks will be challenged by stingy red zone defenses. The Ravens defense has allowed 13 red zone touchdowns in 33 drives this season (39.4 percent), tied for the best efficiency in the NFL with the Panthers. The Lions are tied for third in red zone efficiency.

Calvin Johnson vs Ravens secondary
Calvin Johnson has seven red zone touchdowns this season (tied for fifth in the NFL), but he will be the Ravens biggest concern all over the field.

Megatron ranks second in the NFL with 1,348 receiving yards this season, and 1,100 of those yards (roughly 82 percent) have come inside the painted field numbers.

The league average for percentage of receiving yardage inside the field numbers is roughly 60. Besides Johnson, no receiver has more than 737 yards inside the numbers.

A defense that has moved on this season without future hall-of-famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed roaming the middle will have a tall order stopping Johnson. He leads the NFL in yards after contact on receptions (208 yards) and we have seen him make highlight reel catches on jump balls in the middle of several defenders against the Bengals and Cowboys this season.

Which team makes fewer mistakes?
Joe Flacco is tied for fourth in the NFL with 19 turnovers this season, including 17 interceptions, 11 of which have come on the road. The Ravens haven’t been able make up for those, they rank 25th in the NFL with a -5 turnover margin, including -6 on the road (Ravens 1-5 on road this season).

The Lions have beat themselves during the last 4 games by committing 15 turnovers, most in the NFL (13 turnovers in first 9 games). Eight of the 15 turnovers have come within their opponent’s 30 yard-line, costing the team 26.4 expected points. Matthew Stafford leads the team and NFL with nine turnovers during that span (Lions 1-3 in last four games)

Ravens, Vikings put on historic finish

December, 9, 2013
The Ravens and Vikings combined to score 5 touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 1 second of their game. All 5 touchdowns caused the lead to change hands. The score went from a defensive-looking 12-7 to 29-26 in a blink.

Here is a win probability breakdown after each touchdown in the final 2:05:

𔅖:01: 1-yd Pass TD Flacco-Pitta - 26.9% win probability change, to Ravens 74.3%
𔅕:27: 41-yd Rush TD Gerhart - 40.8% win probability change, to Vikings 88.8%
𔅕:16: 77-yd KO ret TD Jones - 69.1% win probability change, to Ravens 84.0%
𔅔:45: 79-yd Pass TD Cassel-Patterson - 75.4% win probability change, to Vikings 96.4%
𔅔:04: 9-yd Pass TD Flacco-Brown - 59.4% win probability change, to Ravens 98.4%

According to Elias, the five touchdowns in 2:01 were the fastest that five touchdowns have been scored in the last 50 seasons -- by more than 3 minutes.

Patriots Defying Probability
In the past 3 weeks, the Patriots have rallied after facing deficits of 24 points (against the Broncos), 10 points (Texans) and 16 points (Browns). In all 3 games, the Patriots’ win probability reached below 15%.

The small likelihood of victory seems to have inspired Tom Brady. In the second halves and overtime of those games, Brady has completed 75% of his passes (67-of-89) for 6 touchdowns and no interceptions.

After Jason Campbell's touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron gave the Browns a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left, the Patriots’ win probability dropped to 2.0%. After Brady's touchdown pass to Julian Edelman, it was only 2.5%, but it really swung after the onside kick recovery, increasing the Patriots’ likelihood of winning by 21%.

According to Elias, the Patriots are the first team to win 3 consecutive games (all in one season) in which it trailed by double digits in the second half since the 1993 Eagles (weeks 2-5), who had Randall Cunningham at QB.

Pats Offense Below Average Before Gronk
Based on expected points added -- which takes into account everything an offense does to move the ball and score points -- the Patriots’ offense contributed -1.9 expected points per game to the team’s net scoring margin in 6 games without Rob Gronkowski (19th in the NFL). In 7 games since Gronkowski’s return, the Patriots’ offensive EPA is +8.7 per game, 4th in the NFL.

In the past seven games, the Patriots’ red zone touchdown percentage improved to 68.8% from 40.9% in the first six games. And Brady's Total QBR is 68.1 in the past seven games, compared with 52.7 without Gronkowski (50 is average).

RG III, Redskins in Tailspin
Robert Griffin's 6.7 Total QBR against the Chiefs was the worst of his career. His Total QBR this season is 40.1, down from 73.2 last season (fifth in NFL). That is a decrease of 33.1 points, the worst differential of any qualified QB in the NFL this season.

The Redskins allowed two special teams touchdowns to the Chiefs and have allowed an NFL-high five special teams touchdowns this season (one kickoff return, three punt returns and one blocked punt return). They are allowing the most yards per punt return this season (18.0), all reasons they have the worst special teams EPA in the NFL.

Their special teams expected points is -47.0, nearly a point a game worse than the Falcons’ -35.1.

On the flip side, the Chiefs have an NFL-high five special teams touchdowns this season, and they lead the NFL with 41.3 expected points added on special teams (next closest team: Patriots – 31.7).

Keys to victory: No turnovers and kicking

November, 29, 2013

AP Photo/Nick WassRavens kicker Justin Tucker made a career-high five field goals on Thursday.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers played yet another close football game. Since 2003, the rivalry is as close as can be, with each team winning 12 games (including playoffs). Nine of the last 10 regular season games between the teams have been decided by three or fewer points.

Quarterbacks shine

Both quarterbacks played well, as evidenced by their Total QBRs of 79.7 (Roethlisberger) and 83.1 (Flacco), well above the average of 50. Ben Roethlisberger had two touchdown passes, giving him 212 for his career, tied with Terry Bradshaw for the most in Steelers franchise history.

He also notched his 25th consecutive game with a passing touchdown, tied with Tony Romo for second-longest active streak (Peyton Manning, 34).

Joe Flacco threw for 251 yards and a touchdown. For the first time since Week 7 (also against the Steelers), Flacco went through a game without throwing an interception. This reflected a larger theme, as it marked the first game in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not to feature a turnover from either team (40 games including playoffs).

Flacco was effective in targeting Torrey Smith. Flacco was 6-of-10 for 93 yards and a touchdown when targeting Smith on Thursday, good for 9.3 yards per attempt. When targeting seven other Ravens pass catchers, he averaged 6.3 yards per attempt. He went farther downfield for Smith, and his average target depth was more than five yards longer to Smith than it was to his other receivers.

Where Flacco distinguished himself from Roethlisberger on Thursday was on third down, where the Ravens quarterback threw for 118 yards and a touchdown. Roethlisberger was good, but not to the level of Flacco, as he gained more than 50 fewer yards on third down.

Tucker gives the Ravens a kick

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made a huge difference with his field goals. He made all five of his attempts on Thursday, reaching a career high for field goals made.

In fact, Tucker’s five field goals tied him for the most field goals made in any NFL game this season. After going 0-2 in Week 2, Tucker has made 27 consecutive field-goal attempts.

Did you know?

• Fun facts from the Elias Sports Bureau: Defending Super Bowl champions are 9-2 in Thanksgiving Day games, having won their last 7 contests. The Ravens were the second franchise to host a Thanksgiving Day game as the defending Super Bowl champion (the Cowboys have done so five times).

• The Steelers have not fared well in the national spotlight recently. Pittsburgh has lost four straight primetime games and seven of its last nine primetime games overall.

• The Steelers allowed two completions on passes traveling more than 30 yards downfield for the second time in a game in the last three seasons.

• The Ravens allowed their second rushing touchdown of the season. They have still allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league.

Ravens, Steelers offenses struggling in 2013

October, 15, 2013
When the Baltimore Ravens (12th) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (27th) meet this Sunday, it’ll be the first time since Week 16 of the 2009 season that the rivals will play when both outside the top 10 of’s NFL Power Rankings.

Although both offenses are being led by Super Bowl winners neither unit has effectively moved the ball this season.

Below is a look at how each offense has struggled this season:

Neither team can run
The Steelers and Ravens rank among the worst rushing teams in the NFL this season, as only the Jaguars are averaging fewer yards per rush.

The Steelers’ inability to run may not come as surprise. The team entered the season without a clear cut starter, with second-round draft pick Le’Veon Bell missing most of pre-season with a foot injury.

Felix Jones, who was acquired in August, leads the team with 92 rush yards. Jones is tied for 69th in the NFL in rushing this season with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Bell has 91 rush yards, and a 2.8 yards per rush average. The 2.8 average is tied for the worst in the NFL (min. 30 rushes) with Willis McGahee and Ravens running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Both Rice and Pierce averaged at least 4.4 yards per rush last season, making their struggles more unlikely. This season, the duo is having a tough time even getting out of the backfield unscathed.

The Ravens have been contacted in the backfield on an NFL-high 34 rushing plays this season, which accounts for 22 percent of their total rushes. Last season the Ravens were hit in the backfield on 13 percent of their rushes.

The quick hits have contributed to the Ravens averaging 1.6 rush yards before first contact this season (31st), more than a yard worse than their 2.9 yard average last season.

A lack of run game hasn’t helped either team’s quarterbacks, but those aren’t the only problems on offense for each.

No support for Flacco
After trading Anquan Boldin to the 49ers in the offseason and losing Dennis Pitta to injury, Flacco wasn’t left with much support in the passing game.

Torrey Smith still remains in Baltimore, but he has primarily been used as a deep threat. Since entering the NFL, Smith’s average target has been 17.7 yards downfield, highest in the NFL.

Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown and veteran Dallas Clark have tried to fill Boldin and Pitta’s shoes this season but they haven’t been able to fill the void completely.

With few dependable options, Flacco has already targeted 13 different receivers this season, two more than all of last season (including playoffs).

Roethlisberger immobile and under pressure
Roethlisberger has always been susceptible to sacks in his career, but this season he has found himself under more pressure than usual.

Roethlisberger has been sacked or put under duress on 30 percent of his dropbacks this season, his highest rate in the last five seasons.

Unlike in years past, Roethlisberger hasn’t been able to escape the pocket and make plays.

Only 20 percent of his passes when under duress have been from outside the pocket (37 percent from 2009 to 2012), which has led to a diminished performance overall when under pressure.

Manning's nifty touch leads to records

September, 6, 2013

Steve Nehf/The Denver Post via Getty ImagesEvery direction Peyton Manning made on Thursday was the right one.
This wasn’t quite at the level of an NFL playoff game, but Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning took the NFL’s season opener to show that he’s still got plenty left for another potential Super Bowl run.

Manning had arguably the best day of his career, a record-setting one in the Broncos 12th straight regular-season win, 49-27 over the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens defense, typically among the best in the NFL, could do nothing to slow Manning down. The 49 points were the most allowed in a single game in team history.

Here’s a look at the highlights from this rout, the biggest win over a defending Super Bowl champion in a season opener.

Vintage Manning
Peyton Manning flashed back to his best days with an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Manning joins Y.A. Tittle as the only quarterbacks to throw for seven scores without throwing an interception. He tied the NFL records both for number of games with four touchdown passes (23, shared with Brett Favre) and at least five touchdown passes (seven, tied with Drew Brees). He also has the most games with six touchdown passes in NFL history with three.

He’s the sixth player with seven touchdown passes in a game, the first since Joe Kapp in 1969. He’s the only Broncos player to throw for that many scores in a game.

Manning also joined Brees as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to throw six touchdown passes in a season opener and became the second-oldest quarterback with at least six touchdown passes (the Elias Sports Bureau notes that 38-year-old Favre was a year older). He is also the only quarterback to throw as many as six touchdown passes in a game against the Ravens.

Manning has a pair of games with at least six touchdowns and no interceptions. Only four other quarterbacks have at least one such game in the Super Bowl era. Tom Brady also has two.

Manning had four touchdown throws that went at least 15 yards downfield. Only two other quarterbacks have had a game with that many such throws within the past six seasons -- Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

Manning is 10-3 against the Ravens, combining regular season and postseason. That’s the most wins for any quarterback against them.

His 462 passing yards were the second-most he had in any game in his career. He had 472 against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004.

Breakout performer: Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas entered Thursday with only one career reception. But he has a terrific game on Thursday with five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He’s the fifth Broncos player with 100 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in a season opener, the first since Ed McCaffrey in 1999.

Julius Thomas and teammate Demaryius Thomas are just the second set of teammates in the Super Bowl era with 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a season opener.

It hasn't happened since 1966 when the Hall of Famer Bob Hayes and Dan Reeves did it for the Cowboys.
Julius Thomas follows in the footsteps of Randall Cobb, who had a touchdown catch and kickoff return for touchdown for the Green Bay Packers in 2011 and Kevin Ogletree, who had two touchdown receptions for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, as players who had breakout performances in the NFL opener in the past three seasons.

Flacco couldn’t keep up
The magic touch that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had throughout last year’s playoff run eluded him on Thursday. He was 2-for-8 when he threw the ball more than 20 yards downfield. In last year’s playoff win over the Broncos, Flacco was 4-for-7 on those throws, with three touchdown passes, including the game-tying one late in the fourth quarter.

Did You Know?
This is the second straight year that a defending Super Bowl champ has lost its season opener. Prior to that, the defending champ had won the past 12 openers.

The loss snapped the Ravens five-game win streak in season openers.

Key injuries as training camps open

July, 29, 2013

Getty ImagesJeremy Maclin (left) and Dennis Pitta (right) each suffered season-ending injuries on Saturday.

Three notable players went down over the weekend with season-ending injuries.

On Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens lost starting tight end Dennis Pitta after he suffered a dislocated hip in practice. The Philadelphia Eagles lost their top wide receiver from last season, Jeremy Maclin, with a torn ACL in his right knee.

And on Sunday, the Denver Broncos lost starting center Dan Koppen to a torn ACL in his left knee.

How will each injury impact each team?


Pitta was a vital part of the Ravens' third-down success last season. On third down with Pitta on the field, the Ravens averaged more than twice as many yards per play as they did with him off the field. Baltimore was also sacked less often, and all seven of their third-down passing touchdowns came with Pitta on the field.

When Pitta was on the field, he was Joe Flacco’s go-to guy in the red zone. Over the last two seasons (including the playoffs), Pitta had a team-high 10 red zone touchdowns. Second on that list were Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, who’s no longer on the team, with seven.

Pitta, if nothing else, has been extremely dependable when the ball comes his way. He's dropped just three passes over the last two seasons. Among tight ends who have been targeted at least 100 times since 2011, the only tight end with fewer drops is Anthony Fasano with one.


Regardless of who the Eagles end up starting at quarterback, the loss of Maclin is huge as he led the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns last season. In fact, Maclin leads the Eagles in all of those categories over his four seasons with the team.

In 2009, Michael Vick signed with Philadelphia as a free agent shortly after they drafted Maclin. In that time, Vick has thrown more touchdowns (17) and completed more passes (138) to Maclin than any other Eagles receiver.


The Broncos offensive line took a major hit in losing Koppen. Peyton Manning was sacked eight times in the Broncos first three games last season, all played without Koppen taking a snap. Koppen played 95 percent of the team's snaps the final 13 games of the season, with Manning getting sacked 13 total times in those games.

The Broncos allowed one sack for every 35.8 dropbacks with Koppen on the field last season, compared to one sack for every 18.1 dropbacks with him off the field. Although the Broncos were much better with Koppen on the line, they managed to remain above the league average of 16.7 dropbacks per sack in his absence.
Matthew Emmons/USA Today SportsRavens GM Ozzie Newsome has a lot of decisions to make in this draft.

The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have 12 picks in the NFL Draft. Based on what they lost in free agency, the Ravens may need every one.

Baltimore’s defense has lost six of 11 Super Bowl starters, in addition to pass-rushing specialist Paul Kruger (who did not start the game). Three of the four starting defensive backs are gone, as are three members of the front seven.

Though Joe Flacco returned, the offense will have to replace a pair of reliable veterans.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers behind Baltimore's departures:

-- New Houston Texans’ safety Ed Reed had seven interceptions and seven passes defended in 1,991 regular-season plays in the past two seasons with the Ravens, compared to eight interceptions and six defended passes in just 639 plays in 2010.

Still, Ray Lewis and Reed were the only two players on the Ravens defense to play all 333 postseason snaps (including penalties) during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run.

-- New Tennessee Titans’ safety Bernard Pollard (played 94 percent of snaps last season) and Sean Considine also left in free agency, leaving one player on the roster who took a snap at safety for Baltimore last year (James Ihedigbo). Michael Huff was signed from Oakland, but there’s still a sizeable hole at the back of the Baltimore defense. Scouts Inc.’s Todd McShay has the Ravens addressing this by taking Eric Reid from LSU with their first-round pick.

-- New Philadelphia Eagles’ cornerback Cary Williams had 17 passes defended and six interceptions last season (including the playoffs).

Williams recorded 24 disrupted dropbacks (sack, pass defended or interception), trailing only J.J. Watt and Richard Sherman. Williams disrupted three percent of dropbacks the Ravens faced, fifth highest among defensive backs.

-- Ray Lewis’ replacement may improve the Ravens pass defense right away. Opponents’ yards per pass attempt rose from 5.9 in 2008 to 7.7 last season with Lewis on the field.

-- From Week 10 to the Super Bowl, no one had more sacks than new Cleveland Browns’ pass rusher Paul Kruger (12). Kruger, who posted as many sacks as Mario Williams and Jared Allen combined, had 4.5 sacks during Baltimore’s playoff run.

The Ravens signed Elvis Dumervil to replace Kruger. Dumervil had 11.5 sacks with Denver last year.

-- Anquan Boldin, who was traded to the San Francico 49ers, led the Ravens with 43 targets on third down this season (including playoffs), and ranked seventh among all wide receivers with 29 catches on third down.

Boldin was excellent during Baltimore’s postseason run, and had 6 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

-- Center Matt Birk, who made 187 regular-season starts in his 15-year career, retired in the offseason. Birk was a constant presence on the Ravens’ offensive line. From Week 1 of 2008 to Super Bowl XLVII, the only player in the league with more offensive snaps than Birk was his quarterback, Joe Flacco.

5 stats to know: Joe Flacco

March, 1, 2013

David Butler/USA TodayJoe Flacco's postseason success matched up well with NFL legends.

Five things to know about Joe Flacco, who agreed to a new contract with the Baltimore Ravens on Friday night.

1-- Though Flacco will be paid among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, he’s never had a regular season in which he excelled at the standard set by the league’s elite quarterbacks.

Flacco has not ranked higher than 13th in Total QBR in any of the five seasons of his NFL career.

Twice, he's ranked 25th or worse.

2-- Flacco has been the starting quarterback for 63 wins in the regular season and postseason in the first five seasons of his career. That’s the most by a quarterback in his first five seasons within the Super Bowl era.

His nine postseason wins are tied with Tom Brady for the most by any quarterback in his first five seasons

3-- Flacco threw for 22 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in the 2012 regular season, a year he finished with a 46.8 Total QBR (25th in the NFL). But in the postseason, he tied Joe Montana for the most touchdown throws without an interception. His 11 touchdowns and no interceptions matched what Montana did in 1989.

4-- Flacco has a 61.4 career Total QBR in regular-season home games and a 45.9 Total QBR in regular season road games.

The 15.5 differential ranks second-highest among quarterbacks with at least 500 pass attempts at home and on the road since 2008, surpassed only by soon-to-be Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (19.2).

5-- What did Flacco do best during the postseason run that helped him earn this contract? The key was his success with deep throws.

Flacco completed 13-of-26 throws of 21 yards or more in the postseason, with four touchdown passes.

Flacco’s completion rate on those throws in the regular season was 37 percent, only a hair above league average.

Flacco dominant downfield against Niners

February, 4, 2013

Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsJoe Flacco had a Total QBR of 95.1 Sunday, tied for the 2nd-best single-game Total QBR of his career.
Joe Flacco's exceptional playoff run is a significant reason why the Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl XLVII champions, but where specifically did he excel? An advanced look into his performance as well as some others from both the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers:

Flacco Dangerous Downfield

For starters, Flacco was able to find success downfield. He was 7-13 for 171 yards and two touchdowns on passes deeper than 10 yards downfield in Super Bowl XVLII. By contrast, Flacco struggled on those throws in the regular season, posting the second-worst completion percentage (41.1 percent).

From 2008-11 in the postseason, Flacco had just one touchdown and six interceptions on throws over 10 yards downfield, but this postseason, he tossed seven touchdowns and had no interceptions. On Sunday, Flacco also took advantage of a San Francisco defense that had been allowing the big play more often.

Including the Super Bowl, the 49ers allowed five touchdowns and a 67.5 completion percentage on passes more than 10 yards downfield in the postseason. In the regular season, the 49ers allowed only three touchdowns (fewest) on those throws and a 38.7 completion percentage (third best).

Bold When it Matters

Flacco completed seven-of-10 third-down throws for 158 yards and two touchdowns, including four-of-four and a touchdown targeting Anquan Boldin. Boldin entered the game with just one third-down touchdown reception in 105 career third-down targets with the Ravens.

Boldin also became more of a threat near the goal line in the playoffs. He caught four-of-four passes thrown into the end zone during the postseason, including a 13-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring. Compare that to the regular season, when he caught three of 10 end-zone targets.

Teammate Jacoby Jones was also a significant threat. Jones scored on a 56-yard reception with 1:45 left in the second quarter, giving the Ravens a 21-3 lead. The pass traveled 47 yards downfield, giving him two touchdowns this postseason on throws at least 40 yards downfield. He is the first player since Larry Fitzgerald in 2008 to score two touchdowns on such passes in a single postseason.

Kaepernick Connection Issues

On the San Francisco side, Colin Kaepernick's strengths often became weaknesses. Including postseason play, Kaepernick entered Sunday leading the NFL with an on-target throw percentage of 87.5 among quarterbacks with at least 20 pass attempts. Against the Ravens, Kaepernick under or overthrew seven of 28 attempts (25.0 percent) including the only interception by either quarterback on a pass that sailed well over the head of Randy Moss.

Targeting Moss has been an issue for the Niners quarterback. Kaepernick threw three interceptions on 42 passes when throwing in Moss’ direction this season (interception every 14 attempts). When targeting his other receivers, Kaepernick threw two interceptions on 242 attempts (interception every 121 attempts).

What's more, the 49ers ran 13 option plays in both the Super Bowl and NFC Championship, but Kaepernick kept only once on those plays. In his first eight starts, Kaepernick kept a third of the time, including seven rushes for 99 yards in the Divisional Playoffs.

Ravens, Flacco super through postseason

February, 3, 2013

Al Bello/Getty ImagesJacoby Jones going long distances for touchdowns was a theme throughout this season.
The Baltimore Ravens have the best postseason record in NFL history.

They earned their way to that mark by proving they were the best team this postseason, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

Let’s run through some of the statistical highlights of a contest that will be well remembered for many things that go beyond the numbers.

The history
The Ravens became the fifth team to win their first two Super Bowl appearances, joining the 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. They snapped a four-game win streak by the NFC in Super Bowls, becoming the first AFC team to win one since the 2008 Steelers.

The Ravens are 8-1 all-time as a No. 4 seed in the postseason. Both of their Super Bowl wins came as a No. 4 seed, with the other coming in the 2000 season.

Baltimore’s .667 winning percentage (14-7) is the best of any team in NFL history.

The win was Joe Flacco’s ninth in postseason, matching Tom Brady for the most playoff wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons. Flacco joins Eli Manning as the only quarterbacks in postseason history to win seven games on the road or at neutral sites

Ravens coach John Harbaugh improved to 7-0 as a head coach following a bye week. The Ravens 63 wins since Harbaugh took over at the start of the 2008 season are tied with the New England Patriots for the most in the NFL in that span.

The 49ers outgained the Ravens 448 to 347 in combined rushing and passing yardage. Baltimore allowed the most yards in a Super Bowl for any winning team and became the third team to win a Super Bowl despite being outgained by at least that much, joining the 2001 Patriots and 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Super Bowl MVP: Joe Flacco
Flacco had three touchdown passes, giving him 11 with no interceptions this postseason.

He’s the second quarterback with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in a postseason, joining Hall of Famer Joe Montana for the 1989 49ers.

Flacco saved his most accurate game for last, completing 67 percent of his throws.

He was 7-of-13 for 171 yards and two touchdowns on passes more than 10 yards downfield on Sunday.

Flacco struggled on those throws in the regular season, posting the second-worst completion percentage (41 percent) but found his touch in the this postseason, much more than any of the four previous times he'd been to the playoffs.

Flacco caught the 49ers at the right time.

In the regular season, the 49ers allowed only three touchdowns (fewest in the NFL) on that length of throw throws and a 38.7 completion percentage (third-best).

Including the Super Bowl, the 49ers allowed five touchdowns and a 67.5 completion percentage on passes more than 10 yards downfield in the postseason.

Flacco finished with a Total QBR of 95.1, tied for his second-best in a game in his career. It was nearly 50 points better than his QBR during the regular season (46.8).

Play of the game: Jacoby Jones goes the distance
Jacoby Jones set the record for the longest kick return in Super Bowl history with his 108-yard touchdown to open the second half.

This was Jones’ third kickoff return of at least 105 yards for a touchdown this season. The only other player with multiple 105-yard touchdowns in his career is his teammate, Ed Reed, who has two.

This was the second kickoff return for a touchdown in the Superdome. Desmond Howard had the other for the 1996 Green Bay Packers, a 99-yarder against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI that stood as the record for the longest Super Bowl kickoff-return touchdown until Jones’ score.

Jones is the second player in NFL postseason history with a kickoff return touchdown and receiving touchdown in the same game, joining Dante Hall who did it for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2003 AFC Divisional Playoffs.

It was the second 100-yard touchdown in Super Bowl history, joining the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by James Harrison for the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

49ers come so close
The 49ers 31 points tied the most by a losing team in a Super Bowl, matching the total scored by the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII.

It is the most points the 49ers have ever scored in a postseason loss. They were 13-0 in postseason play when scoring at least 31 points prior to today.

The 49ers outscored the Ravens 25-6 and outgained them 260-126 after the third-quarter power outage, but that would not be enough.

Colin Kaepernick also just missed out on Steve McNair's Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He finished with 62, two shy of the mark.

The one issue for Kaepernick on a day in which he threw for more than 300 yards was that he couldn't finish off enough drives needed to complete the comeback.

Kaepernick was 0-for-4 on passes thrown into the end zone in the game and 1-for-8 on such throws in the postseason. Six of the seven incompletions were the result of overthrown passes.

Everything to know about the Super Bowl

February, 3, 2013
Here's a look back at the Stats and Info Blog's coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

Top 10 stats to know on the Super Bowl
We give you the 10 notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the big matchup on Sunday night.

How does each team handle “sideline chaos” situations?
A look at how the Ravens and 49ers compare in two areas that directly reflect the ability of those to stay calm and communicate effectively: the two-minute drill and the decision to throw the challenge flag.

D II Washburn steals the Super Bowl show
A total of 106 players are on the active rosters of the Ravens and 49ers, and examining the alma maters of Super Bowl teams always produces interesting quirks. Here are three things to know about both teams.

The 10 biggest plays this season for the 49ers
For the San Francisco 49ers, what plays were the most important in winning games on their way to the Super Bowl? Here are the 10 plays that most improved their chances of winning through the regular season the playoffs.

Top things to know: 49ers D
The 49ers' defense has ranked among the best in the NFL over the past two seasons. But what else should you know about it?

Breaking down the 49ers option offense
Including the regular season, the Niners have boasted the most efficient option scheme in the NFL. No team which used the option regularly averaged more than San Francicso’s 7.1 yards per rush with the play this season. But what is it that makes the 49ers option so good?

What makes Colin Kaepernick so good?
Colin Kaepernick has made just nine career starts, including the playoffs, but he’s got the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl thanks to his performance from all areas of the field. What makes Kaepernick so good? Let's take a look at three aspects of his game.

Backup quarterbacks who became Super Bowl starters
Colin Kaepernick took over as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback in Week 11 after Alex Smith was sidelined with a concussion in the previous week. He's not the first backup quarterback to lead his team to the Super Bowl after riding the pine early in the season. Who are the others?

The 10 biggest plays of the season for the Ravens
For the Baltimore Ravens, what plays were the most important in winning games on their way to the Super Bowl? Here are the 10 plays that most improved their chances of winning through the regular season the playoffs.

Top things to know: Ravens D
The Ravens defense finished the regular season allowing 350.9 yards per game, 17th in the league. In the playoffs, Baltimore is allowing 415.0 yards per game, up more than 60 yards from its regular season total, but that’s not the whole story.

Ray Lewis and other players that retired with a Super Bowl title on the line
Ray Lewis says that Super Bowl XLVII will mark the end of his NFL career. A number of players have played their final game on the sport's biggest stage, but not all have claimed victory on the way out. Here are some of the game's greats who said farewell after the big game.

Joe Flacco is thriving since the coaching change
Joe Flacco has been a much different quarterback in the postseason. His playoff QBR of 77.5 is a huge improvement over the 46.8 he put up in the regular season. What’s been the difference?

Ravens running game soars under Jim Caldwell
Following a Week 14 loss to the Washington Redskins, the Ravens fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. It's a move that appears to have paid off, as the offense averaged 30 points per game during a playoff run that pushed the Ravens to the franchise's second Super Bowl.

New offensive line combination opens up offense for Ravens
The Ravens' five-man offensive line unit of Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda and Michael Oher played together for the first time this season in the Ravens' Wild Card win over the Colts. That unit has played every snap this postseason, and is a big reason why the Ravens offense has flourished in the postseason.

QBR Illustrated: Kaepernick vs. Flacco

February, 2, 2013

ESPN Stats & InformationA comparison of Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco through the lens of Total QBR.
Total QBR was developed to capture a lot about a quarterback’s play, from avoiding sacks to scrambling and penalties, on top of all the things they do as a passer.

The above infographic is one way of capturing a lot of those elements for the two Super Bowl quarterbacks, San Francisco 49ersColin Kaepernick and Baltimore RavensJoe Flacco.

Using regular season numbers, the graphic makes a few clear distinctions about their general style. Not surprisingly, Kaepernick makes more of a difference on runs and scrambles than does Flacco.

The black and blue arrows behind the line of scrimmage are almost non-existent for Flacco and huge for Kaepernick. The red splat mark indicates sacks for the two quarterbacks and both have surprisingly lost about the same number of yards per dropback on sacks.

The yellow arrow represents how often they threw the ball away -- Kaepernick threw it away at one of the highest rates in the league. These are essentially zero-yard sacks, but with less contact, that can be an important play for a quarterback.

The yellow flag behind the line of scrimmage is much farther behind it for Kaepernick, who has had problems getting plays off on time. Flacco has earned more post-pass penalties, as represented by his blue flag beyond the line of scrimmage being farther downfield than Kaepernick’s.

The downfield portion of the graphic illustrates how accurate the quarterbacks were this season. The magnitude of the red region represents how often they were off-target; the yellow region represents how often they were on-target but just incomplete; the blue regions represent how often they were on-target and complete.

As shown in the graphic, interceptions and yards after catch were pretty even for both guys, but overall Kaepernick was much more accurate than Flacco.

This all adds up to the dramatically different Total QBR values depicted next to their names. Kaepernick ranked third in the NFL and Flacco ranked 25th during the regular season.