We are starting to acquire a feel for the 2016 Baltimore Ravens. Four games in, the team has produced three positive results and one disappointing one. The Ravens schemes produce close games, that much is certain.
In the game last Sunday, the Ravens won the line of scrimmage on running plays, besting the Raiders by more than a yard and a half per carry, and won the time of possession battle by almost ten minutes. But they lost the line of scrimmage on passing plays, allowing exponentially more pass rushing pressure than they generated, and failed to record a stop in the red zone.
The Redskins are not a talented as the Raiders. They have some playmakers, but some exploitable flaws on their roster as well. Ryan Kerrigan, Washington’s best pass rusher, is questionable to play with a elbow injury. Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley is also questionable with a foot ailment. Even if Kerrigan plays, and wins his matchup, the Ravens should still win a close contest if they win two of the four individual matchups below. And they could blowout the Redskins if they win all four of these key matchups:
RB Terrance West vs LB Mason Foster
Fresh off a 113-yard, one-touchdown break out performance against the Raiders last week, West has another appealing matchup against the Redskins bottom three run defense. West should handle the bulk of the load with Justin Forsett no longer on the roster and Kenneth Dixon expected to be eased back into action. Foster has been the ‘Skins most active run defender with 34 tackles. If the Ravens can get West going on the ground, it will help Joe Flacco get into rhythm and open up downfield shots off play action.
TE Jordan Reed vs. S Eric Weddle
Reed is a dangerous target machine, especially in the red zone. Reed has 25 receptions and two touchdowns on the season, and plays more like a slot receiver than a in-line blocking tight end. This presents a matchup problem for the Ravens, they do not have many defenders with the size/speed combination to cover the playmaker. Weddle has been a revelation in the Ravens secondary, overseeing a dramatic improvement in big plays allowed. One area the Ravens defense needs to improve upon is red zone coverage. Weddle must be quick to break on and dislodge the ball when Reed finds space behind the linebackers.
WR Breshad Perriman vs CB Kendall Fuller
Josh Norman, the Redskins top cover man, is likely to stay at his right corner position instead of shadowing Mike Wallace or Steve Smith. Bashad Breeland, their other starting corner, has struggled this season and is questionable with an ankle injury. Rookie Kendall Fuller played 62% of the defensive snaps and accumulated eight tackles last week in Breeland’s absence. Expect the Ravens to attempt to isolate the inexperienced corner on the speedy Perriman. Connecting on just a couple vertical passes can take the Ravens offense to the next level, and Fuller on Perriman is a favorable matchup.
RT Morgan Moses vs OLB Elvis Dumervil
The Redskins have a quality offensive line, both left tackle Trent Williams and Moses are playing at a high level. It is unlikely the Ravens will have much pass rushing success off the left side without using more exotic blitzes. Dumervil notched a pair of quarterback hurries in his season debut last Sunday against Oakland. Now that Doom has knocked the rust off, it will be essential for him to make quarterback Kirk Cousins uncomfortable in this game. Allowing Cousins time to find DeSean Jackson and company could expose the Ravens secondary.