clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Key Matchups

AP Photo

FanDuel has a special offer for SB Nation fans -- The FanDual 5-Pack. It's 5 free contest entries for new players only, no experienced players allowed!

The Jaguars were blown out in San Diego last week, and sit winless on the season. What once appeared to be one of the more challenging games on Ravens schedule now seems more manageable.

Not so fast. The Jaguars hung tough with the Packers in Week 1 and will be desperate for a win at home on Sunday. The former AFC Central rivals are accustomed to playing grind-it-out type of games. Week 3 should be another tight contest decided late in the fourth quarter.

These four player matchups will determine who wins the game...

TE Dennis Pitta vs OLB Telvin Smith

Pitta re-emerged as Flacco’s go-to receiver last week against the Browns. Pitta collected nine receptions for 102-yards on 12 targets. For the Jags, Smith brings excellent speed and coverage ability from the linebacker position. When the Ravens met the Jaguars last season, their tight ends combined for 117-yards and a pair of touchdowns. Flacco will look to Pitta in the redzone, while Smith can tilt the time-of-possession battle in Jacksonville’s favor if he is able to take away Pitta on third down.

C Brandon Linder vs DT Brandon Williams

Linder, a tall interior blocker, has graded quite well in the Jags first two games this season. However, Jacksonville has been unable to get their running game going, averaging less than 60-yard on the ground per game this season. Stud run stuffer Williams, who brought Bortles down for a sack last year, hopes to win the leverage battle up front. Making the Jags offense one dimensional by taking away the run would benefit the Ravens secondary as they attempt to contain their multiple receiving threats.

RB Justin Forsett vs MLB Paul Posluszny

Forsett is off to a slow start in 2016. He is averaging 3.5 yards per touch, including receptions out of the backfield. While the Jags have a pair of quick linebackers in Smith and Myles Jack, Posluszny is not fleet of foot. Forsett against Posluszny is a match-up the Ravens should like, via either rushes to the outside or isolating the MLB in pass coverage. The Ravens will likely need more production from their tailbacks to avoid another slow start on offense. Jacksonville's roster is more talented than the Bills or Browns, climbing out of an early hole may prove difficult in consecutive weeks on the road.

WR Allen Hurns vs CB Shareece Wright

Hurns has picked up where he left off last year, eclipsing 60-yards in each of his first two games. When these two teams faced off last season, Hurns opened the scoring with a first quarter touchdown and paced the Jags in terms of receiving yards. Wright had an unimpressive game last week, including a touchdown allowed against Corey Coleman. Third down offensive efficiency has been poor for the Jags in 2016, they have converted on less than 24% of their third downs so far. Their top receiver, Allen Robinson, has been held in check for the most part through two games, and Jimmy Smith has the size to counter his leaping ability, which is his best attribute. That leaves Hurns on Wright as the matchup they are most likely to attack. The Ravens would be wise to give Wright safety help against Hurns, or risk allowing decisive downfield plays.