Coming into this week, if you had asked me which team had the NFL's top passing offense, I would have guessed Peyton Manning's Colts, Phillips Rivers' Chargers, or Drew Brees' Saints.
I would have been wrong.
At the quarter pole of the 2010 season, the league's most prolific passer is a former fourth-round pick who has yet to make a Pro Bowl appearance, and whose top wide receiver hasn't eclipsed 750 yards receiving in any of his previous seven seasons.
I'm talking about Kyle Orton and the Denver Broncos. Orton's 1,419 passing yards are the second-most in NFL history through four games, behind only Kurt Warner, who was under center for the "Greatest Show on Turf" back in 2000.
Coming into this season, if you had asked me which team would have the NFL's top passing defense four weeks into the season, I would have guessed the Jets, Steelers or maybe the Packers.
Again, I would have been wrong.
The league's stingiest passing defense to this point belongs to the Ravens, who are without six-time Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, lost their top cornerback for the year to a torn ACL, and have two of their top three remaining cornerbacks coming off ACL tears of their own.
It might be an unlikely matchup between the league's No. 1 passing offense and the No. 1 passing defense this Sunday when the Broncos come to Baltimore to face the Ravens, but this game will be a big test for both teams.
Denver's passing attack has been tough to slow down through four games, and they're posting numbers that you don't see much outside of Indianapolis these days.
"[The Broncos] probably have, obviously, one of the most effective passing games in history through four games," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said yesterday. "Kyle has been around. He's got a real good scheme. They do a nice job in terms of mixing things up, protection-wise, route-wise.
"They're getting the ball downfield. They're getting the ball out quickly - all the things that good passing teams do."
The Broncos have four wide receivers who are legitimate threats in Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and rookie Demaryius Thomas. They spread defenses out wide and share the ball around well amongst those four, which makes it tough for defenses, who would prefer to focus on one or two playmaking threats.
The Ravens will counter that passing attack with a defense that has allowed just 119 passing yards per game this season, 20 yards better than the NFL's second-best passing defense, which belongs to the Giants.
A maligned group coming into the season, the Baltimore secondary has been up to the task so far, remarkably allowing 150 yards passing just once through four games.
They haven't faced the toughest of aerial attacks thus far, however, so this will be a true test for this passing defense. If you wanted a measuring stick game to see how good this group really is, you'll get it this weekend when the Broncos come to town.
"We relish the challenge, and I really can't wait to see it," cornerback Fabian Washington said. "I feel like they are going to challenge us because they have four very good receivers, but I think we have five very good corners. I think we match up well with them, but we'll see what's their game plan Sunday.
"There's still people that's skeptical [of the Ravens' secondary], but we can put to rest a lot of questions this game."