1.) Vonta Leach vs. Rey Maualuga
Leach is arguably the best blocking full back in the NFL today. He has a knack for opening holes and putting fear in the eyes of defensive backs and safeties when they come up in run support. Leachs' greatest attribute, his straight ahead blocking, may be wasted a bit with a skat back like Ray Rice behind him but Vonta will lay the wood and open those holes non the less. Even if Rice may have cut back the other way five yards ago.. Maualuga is a guy I was very high on in the draft. I hoped the Ravens would draft him to be the successor to Ray Lewis. When the Bengals drafted him in the second round I knew it was no good for us. If Leach can get into the second level with Rice still on his feet then it would mean a head on collision with Ray Maualuga. If Leach wins you will be hearing a lot about Cincinnati's safeties come Sunday!
Here are Maualugas' 2011 HIGHLIGHTS: GENERAL: Has started six games (Games 1-5 and 9) at MLB, but was sidelined for Games 6-8 due to ankle sprain suffered in practice Oct. 13 … Despite missed time, ranks third on team in tackles (57) … Led team in tackles through five games, before suffering the injury … Has one forced fumble and two passes defensed … Has supported effort for Bengals defense to rank fifth in NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (304.2), second in fewest rushing yards allowed (86.8), fourth in fewest yards allowed per offensive play (4.8) and second in fewest yards per rushing play (3.4). Advantage: Leach
2.) Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin vs.Kelly Jennings and Nate Clements
Boldin seems to really be coming into his own this season as Joe Flacco's number one target. Every week Torrey Smith is sure to get behind a corner back and get a deep ball lofted his way. Whether the ball actually makes it into his hands is another story. Jennings and Clements will have to play the next man up role as they will each be moving up a spot on the field due to the injury of Leon Hall. The true match up that may fall in Baltimore's favor is if Lee Evans is able to play. Then we will see how the Bengals nickle corner matches up on him.
Here are some of Nate Clements 2011 HIGHLIGHTS: GENERAL: Has started at LCB in Games 1-8, logging 45 tackles (fourth on team), nine passes defensed (leads team), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal … Has supported effort for Bengals defense to rank fourth in NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (301.3), fourth in fewest yards allowed per offensive play (4.8) and 10th in fewest passing yards per game (216.8).
Here are some of Kelly Jennings 2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Has played in six games (Games 2-4 and 7-9) … Inactive for the other three games due to hamstring injuries … Has logged 14 tackles and a pass defensed, as well as two special teams tackles … Has supported effort for Bengals defense to rank fifth in NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (304.2), fourth in fewest yards allowed per offensive play (4.8) and 10th in fewest passing yards per game (217.4) … Made Bengals debut Sept. 18 at Denver, playing briefly on defense and on special teams (no statistics) … Had one tackle on defense Sept. 25 vs. San Francisco … One tackle and a pass defensed Oct. 2 vs. Buffalo, along with a special teams tackle … Logged five tackles on defense Oct. 30 Seattle, along with a special teams tackle … Three tackles Nov. 6 at Tennessee … Logged four tackles Nov. 13 vs. Pittsburgh as he saw more extensive action in place of Leon Hall, who left game in second quarter with an injury. Advantage: Smith and Boldin
3.) Cam Cameron vs. Mike Zimmer
Cam Cameron is forever the subject of debate here in Baltimore. If he can find a way to crack Zimmer's 4-3 defense it will go a long way in securing Cameron's future here in Baltimore. Mike Zimmer has had the perfect antidote for Joe Flacco and Cameron's offense for years now. The Ravens are 1-3 vs. the 4-3 defense this season and need to find a way to beat one this week or it may be their downfall.
Here are some highlights: Mike Zimmer is in his fourth season as Bengals defensive coordinator. In 2009, Zimmer earned NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers and from CBSSports.com. He also won the assistant of the year award from FOX broadcaster and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Advantage: Zimmer
4.) Ray Rice vs. Robert Geathers.
Rice needs to get the ball this week. period. The Ravens have a true elite offensive player in their backfield and if they want to win they need to use him correctly. If you want you can put the ball in the hands of Joe Flacco 50 times a game and hope for the best but you have to have something to build around...Like a running game! Rice does most of his running off tackle so look for the match up to be between Rice and defensive end Robert Geathers. If Rice can get passed that point he will have at least four yards a carry and will be effective.
Here are some of Geathers 2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Has played in seven games (Games 1 and 4-9), with six starts at LDE … Suffered shoulder injury Sept. 11 at Cleveland, rendering him inactive in Games 2-3 … Has 14 tackles and a pass defensed … Has supported effort for Bengals defense to rank fourth in NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (301.3), second in fewest rushing yards (84.5), fourth in fewest yards allowed per offensive play (4.8) and first in fewest yards per rushing play (3.3) … Logged one tackle and one pass defensed Sept. 11 at Cleveland, helping hold Browns to 83 rushing yards on 26 attempts (3.2) … Three tackles Oct. 2 in first game back from injury ... Two tackles Oct. 9 at Jacksonville ... One tackle and one QB pressure Oct. 30 at Seattle … Three tackles Nov. 6 at Tennessee ... On Nov. 13 vs. Pittsburgh, had 1.5 sacks, six total tackles (tied for line lead), one tackle-for-loss on a rushing play and an additional QB pressure. Advantage: Rice (if they get him the ball)
5.) Bryant McKinnie and Micheal Oher vs. Carlos Dunlap
McKinnie and Oher have been up and down all season. Oher has really cut back on the penalties of late and seems to be playing well. McKinnie can overpower a player on one play and then totally whiff on a block the next. I guess it's all about timing with him. You have to hope that the play you really need comes at a time that he guessed correctly. Dunlap has become a pass rushing threat in every sence. He comes in on 3rd downs much like Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee do for the Ravens. If the tackles hold strong Flacco can do a lot more so this will be a key match up to watch.
Here are some of Dunlaps 2011 HIGHLIGHTS: GENERAL: Missed all four preseason games due to knee strain, but was ready for season opener … Played in Games 1-8, including a start Oct. 2 vs. Buffalo, but missed Game 9 vs. Pittsburgh due to hamstring injury … Has 19 tackles with 3.0 sacks (tied for second on team) and three passes defensed … His 20 QB pressures are 13 more than the second-place Bengal … Has supported effort for Bengals defense to rank fifth in NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (304.2), second in fewest rushing yards allowed (86.8), fourth in fewest yards allowed per offensive play (4.8) and second in fewest yards per rushing play (3.4). Advantage: Even