The 2016 NFL regular season will commence in a little more than three months. The fate of the Baltimore Ravens campaign will largely be determined by individual player matchups. Here is an early look at some potentially crucial matchups for each game on the regular season schedule:
Week 1 vs Buffalo
Wide receiver Breshad Perriman vs. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
The Bills have invested heavily in their defensive front and may be able to stifle the Ravens rushing attack. Perriman has the size to threaten the defense downfield against either of their quality corners.
Week 2 at Cleveland
Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley vs. Running back Duke Johnson
The Browns had some big losses on their offensive line in free agency. Their passing game has limited talent. Their only prayer is to hit a few big plays to their pass catching back.
Week 3 at Jacksonville
Safety Lardarius Webb vs. Quarterback Blake Bortles
Bortles has a big arm and potent trio of deep threats between Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas. Webb must support the Ravens corners and tackle well in the secondary in order for the Ravens to avoid giving up big plays downfield.
Week 4 vs Oakland
Cornerback Jimmy Smith vs Wide Receiver Amari Cooper
Smith gave up a long touchdown to Cooper early last season. The Raiders drastically improved their personnel in the offseason, the Ravens cannot afford another early deficit. Now fully recovered from his foot injury, Smith has an opportunity for redemption.
Week 5 vs Washington
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan vs Offensive Guard Brandon Scherff
This appears to be a smash mouth type of game. The Redskins have a solid offensive line and bruising running back in Matt Jones. Jernigan can make a difference by controlling the line of scrimmage against the run and collapsing the pocket against the pass.
Week 6 at New York Giants
Cornerback Jimmy Smith vs Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants offense revolves around Beckham. Smith will be challenged to limit his explosive ability. Hold Beckham in check and the Ravens have a clear path to victory.
Week 7 at New York Jets
Offensive Guard Marshal Yanda vs Defensive Tackle Muhammad Wilkerson
Two of the best players in the league at their positions will square off against each other. A strong game from Yanda will help the Ravens win the time of possession battle and best the well-rounded Jets.
Week 9 vs Pittsburgh
Defensive Tackle Brandon Williams vs Center Maurkice Pouncey
The Ravens have been relatively successful in limiting Le'Veon Bell in recent matchups while also forcing Ben Roethlisberger into bad decisions with pressure up the middle. Williams is the Ravens anchor up front and will be battling Pouncey, who is one of the better centers in the league and is returning from injury.
Week 10 vs Cleveland
Wide Receiver Steve Smith Sr. vs Cornerback Joe Haden
This looks like a grind it out, type of game on a short week against a divisional opponent. Smith has done well against the Browns while wearing purple. A turnover caused by Haden could give the Browns a puncher's chance.
Week 11 at Dallas
Quarterback Joe Flacco vs Inside Linebacker Sean Lee
The Ravens will lean on their franchise quarterback in this road contest. It would benefit the team to employ a ball control gameplan featuring short passing to limit the Ravens defense's exposure against their exceptional offensive line. Lee, the Cowboys defensive captain, will attempt to get his team off the field on third down.
Week 12 vs Cincinnati
Cornerback Jimmy Smith vs Wide Receiver A.J. Green
Green has dominated the Ravens in recent meetings. Smith will be tasked with coverage duties on yet another elite receiver during the near weekly gauntlet of difficult matchups he faces in 2016.
Week 13 vs Miami
Offensive Tackle Ronnie Stanley vs Defensive End Cameron Wake
The Ravens are expecting immediate contributions from the No. 6 pick in the draft. Wake will be one of the best pass rushers he faces all season.
Week 14 vs New England
Quarterback Joe Flacco vs Safety Devin McCourty
Primetime in Foxboro is a tough spot, fortunately, Flacco has played well in these situations. The Ravens have been successful with passing-centric gameplans against the Patriots. McCourty, their best defensive back, will be hoping to flip the script by snatching an interception.
Week 15 vs Eagles
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil vs Right Tackle Lane Johnson
Johnson is one of the better right tackles Dumervil will face over the course of the season. The Eagles do have a couple dynamic pass catchers, so the Ravens pass rush will be important.
Week 16 at Pittsburgh
Outside Linebacker Terrell Suggs vs Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Whether it has been producing sacks or picking off screen passes, Suggs has had Big Ben's number. Even without Martavis Bryant, the Steelers feature a dangerous offense. A vintage game from Suggs in Pittsburgh will go a long way in helping the Ravens earn another road rivalry win.
Week 17 at Cincinnati
Safety Eric Weddle vs Tight End Tyler Eifert
These divisional matchups are usually close contests. Eifert grew into one of the toughest tight ends to cover last season. By signing the savvy Weddle, the Ravens may have finally found a safety who is capable of regulating the middle of the field.
Which matchups are you most excited to see next season? Which will be the most pivotal?