I think articles like this would be a fun addition to the Beatdown. Mike Preston usually does something like this for the Baltimore Sun, but, inspired by Mike Tanier's excellent weekly article, I've decided to try my luck with it. The idea is simple, I'm going to analyze several key matchups in the upcoming game.
1) Brandon Albert vs. Terrell Suggs - I could have chosen Brian Waters vs. Haloti Ngata, but this matchup is probably more important and more balanced. The Chiefs fans are really high on 2nd year player Albert, who played mostly guard in college but moved to Tackle in the NFL. Kansas City had an awful running game last year, and a mediocre line for pass protection, but Albert is certainly the best young player on that line. Whoever the Chief's quarterback is going to be on Sunday, it's Suggs' primary job to get him flat on his back as much as possible. Really, if we win this matchup, the Chiefs don't have much of a chance, because they'll have to rely on their running game to move the ball, and any of the Chief's 3 QBs are much more mistake prone than our QB Flacco. Albert's a fine player, but Suggs is just better, and I give him the edge in this matchup.
2) Derrick Mason vs. CB Brandon Flowers - Brandon Flowers was one of the Ravens coveted players in the 2007 draft, but he was taken moments before their second round pick, leading the Ravens to move down and take RB Ray Rice. The Ravens are hardly displeased with that situation. However, Flowers is an emerging young player who is physical and athletic at corner, although his measurables are somewhat lacking. Mason is our only reliable receiving threat until further notice, and it falls to the Chiefs best corner to keep him out of the game. The Chiefs could double cover him, but they'll also want to put 8 in the box to stop the running game, and doing both gives them basically no protection againt the deep ball, plus single coverage on everybody else, which is an OK risk for some snaps, but not something you want to make a pattern out of. Therefore, it will fall to Brandon to keep the ball away from Derrick Mason. I've seen Mason get open against corners I consider to be much better than Brandon, although he's a solid player, so I'd give the edge to Mason as well.
3) OT Michael Oher vs. DE Tyson Jackson - Battles of the first round picks are always interesting. Tyson Jackson was widely considered a reach at 3rd overall, and Michael Oher widely considered a steal at 23rd, so the differences in draft slot may not be indicitave of overall talent. Both have impressed greatly in training camp and the preseason. Tyson Jackson is a classic 3-4 DE, someone that I originally wanted to eventually replace Trevor Pryce. He's not the worlds best pass rusher, but he's very strong and stout against the run. This matchup will be most notable in the running game, as Oher rarely got bull-rushed in the preseason, and in any case, in the passing game against a 3-4 Jackson will often be RG's Chris Chester's responsibility (note to self... hope Chester got stronger this offseason) where as Oher takes on an outside rusher. I'll give the slight advantage to Jackson, but this should be an interesting matchup in any case.
4) CB Dominique Foxworth vs. WR Dwayne Bowe - Our big prize this offseason was CB Dominique Foxworth. He, by nature of his huge salary, becomes our #1 Corner... after his impressive play at Atlanta. Before this he was the nickel back in Denver, so Chiefs fans know the player well. There's not really any shame in being a nickel to Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly, and Foxworth is a Ravens style corner that lacks size or solid hands, but can absolutely fly. The Ravens rely on their safeties and front seven for big plays and physicality, wanting their defensive backs to prevent the big play from WRs. Dwayne Bowe is a big physical receiver, but advanded Defensive metrics hate him. Football Outsiders places him as barely above replacement and ranked even below our own Mark Clayton. However, you have to take into account the Chief's quarterbacking and offensive line situations last year when looking at those statistics. My concern about the Ravens system is that they seem to have minimal answers to strong, tall, or physical receivers. Bowe's hardly the best of those receivers, but he's still a decent player. We'll call this matchup a wash.