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After three straight losses, the Ravens have little margin for error. At this point, this is the biggest game of the year and not just because it's this week's game.

If they lose to the Broncos at home, the Ravens should have to forfeit their Super Bowl contender's pass. Lose to the Broncos at home and you have to question whether they're a legitimate playoff contender.

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Four losses don't eliminate the Ravens from anything. But seven almost certainly will and the schedule doesn't favor a long unbeaten run in the second half of the season. They have to play the Steelers twice, the Colts once and the Packers in Green Bay on a Monday night in early December. Could the Ravens lose three of those four? If they play the way they played in October, yes they can. They could lose all four.

Which means they can't afford to lose to Denver. They have road games in Cincinnati and Cleveland after this and division games can always be tricky. The fact the Browns game is prime time could inspire their best effort. A loss to Cleveland is too grim to even contemplate.

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So, if the prescription for staying alive is beating the Broncos today, here are three elements that would pave the way:

1) Quick start on offense. The Ravens have not played well offensively in the first half the last three weeks. That's execution, but it's also coaching. Everybody has to do better in the first half. That was a big focus this week among the players.

2) Dictate to Denver's defense. If the Broncos are allowed to run blitz after blitz at the Ravens, it means the Ravens are playing catchup and Joe Flacco is under siege. If the Ravens run the ball, play-action off the run and find Derrick Mason, they can keep the Broncos' defense honest and on its heels. Dictate with the run.

3) Get to Kyle Orton. The Broncos quarterback has been sacked nine times in six games. It's imperative that the Ravens get to him before Brandon Marshal gets into the soft spots in the Ravens secondary. The corners are taking the heat but the pass rushers share the blame. Jarret Johnson is playing with two injured shoulders. Haloti Ngata has a bad back. Terrell Suggs hasn't played his game yet. Worse, Suggs appears out of shape and heavy, a result of missing training camp with a foot injury. It's time for the big guy to show up. There are no more excuses that are acceptable.

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