Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
20.3 -- average starting position for Baltimore’s opponents (their 20.3-yard line) after kickoffs this season.
The improvements the Ravens have made to their return game have rightfully received attention, as Jacoby Jones has returned two kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns and the Ravens offense, on average, is starting just past their 25-yard line after kickoffs. But how about a little love for the kickoff coverage team, too? Rookie kicker Justin Tucker has boomed 34 touchbacks. And according to Ravens media relations, Baltimore's opponents, on average, are starting drives at their 20.3-yard line after kickoffs, which ranks fourth in the NFL (the Chicago Bears are first with their opponents getting an average starting position at the 19.6-yard line).
328 -- rushing attempts by the Ravens’ opponents this season.
The Ravens are allowing a respectable 4.0 yards per carry this season, but that hasn't stopped opponents from running the ball against them early and often. According to Pro Football Focus, no team has been run on more often than the Ravens in the first quarter (80 rush attempts), the second quarter (82) and the third quarter (91). Only one team, the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, have been run on more often by opponents (331 rush attempts). Those numbers were inflated a little during a historic rough patch when they allowed more than 200 yards in consecutive weeks. But still, it’s obvious that the Ravens run defense is no longer feared.
14 -- pressures by linebacker Paul Kruger the past two games.
Kruger got off to a disappointing start, suffering a back injury, rarely touching quarterbacks and losing his starting spot for a while. But he has played better since Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs returned to the lineup in Week 7, and in the past two weeks, Kruger has terrorized opposing offensive tackles. Kruger had two sacks in the win over the Oakland Raiders. Then he harassed Pittsburgh Steelers rookie offensive tackle Mike Adams on Sunday, recording a sack. He also had three quarterback hits and five hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. In total, they have credited Kruger with 14 quarterback pressures the past two games.
68.2 -- percentage of red-zone possessions in which the San Diego Chargers defense has allowed a touchdown this season.
The Chargers are eighth in the NFL in yards allowed and third against the run, but one key area where they have given up ground is the red zone. Through 10 games, the Chargers rank 31st in red-zone defense, as their opponents have scored touchdowns on nearly 70 percent of their drives after crossing San Diego’s 20-yard line. Meanwhile, the Ravens are seventh in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 61.3 percent of the time. If the Baltimore offense struggles yet again away from M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens will need to take advantage of their opportunities once they get deep in Chargers territory.
100.7 -- Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' career passing rating in four games against the Ravens.
If it feels like Philip Rivers played some of his best football against the Ravens, you should probably trust your gut more often. In four starts against the Ravens, in which each team has won twice, Rivers has completed 64 percent of his passes for an average of 275 yards. The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback threw seven touchdowns against three interceptions in those games. And Rivers’ passer rating against the Ravens is 100.7 -- that is his fourth-highest career passer rating against an opponent that he has played more than twice.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter at @mattvensel. If I end up using it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun