The Baltimore Ravens offense is aiming to build upon their success last weekend against an underrated Bears defensive front. Chicago will bring the sixth ranked total defense to M&T Bank stadium in Week 6. As always, putting points on the board early will be crucial for the Ravens.
Five key matchups:
LT Ronnie Stanley vs OLB Pernell McPhee
The franchise left tackle bounced back from a below average outing in London with a solid showing against Pittsburgh and a dominant performance in Oakland. McPhee, the lynchpin of the Ravens fierce 2014 pass rush, is playing well this season. Through five games he has accumulated two sacks, five quarterback hits, a forced fumble and two tackles for a loss. Protection on the blindside will be essential for Joe Flacco and the Ravens vertical passing game.
RT Austin Howard vs OLB Leonard Floyd
Howard rebounded from two straight poor games to provide his best blocking as a Raven against Khalil Mack and the Raiders last week. His assignment will not be much easier this week when he lines up against emerging star Leonard Floyd. The second year speed rusher is coming into his own in 2017. On Monday night, he led the Bears defense with two sacks, a safety, a quarterback hit and three solo tackles. Consistently chipping Floyd with tight end Nick Boyle would be a wise decision.
P Sam Koch vs PR Tarik Cohen
Baltimore’s stalwart punter ranks 19th in the NFL with a net punting average of 40.7 yards, including ten punts downed inside the opponents 20-yard line. The Ravens punt coverage unit has allowed just 4.2 yards per return, seventh best in the NFL. Cohen, an explosive rookie with 4.4 speed, has returned a dozen punts this year for an average of 7.3 yards each. Bottling him up will be important in a game where field position could play a large role.
ILB C.J. Mosley vs RB Jordan Howard
The Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker has struggled against the run over the last three weeks during defensive tackle Brandon Williams absence. In consecutive games, Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell and Marshawn Lynch have run over him at the goal line to punch in touchdowns. Howard is cut from the same cloth as these three powerful between-the-tackles runners. On the season, he is averaging four yards per carry, with four scores behind the Bears elite interior blocking trio. Surprisingly, Baltimore’s usually stout run defense is ranked 23rd in the league. If Mosley can limit Howard, the Bears will have major problems moving the ball.
CB Lardarius Webb vs WR Kendall Wright
Wright is the best of the bunch from the Bears arguably league worst receiving corps. Last week with Mitch Trubisky under center, Wright was more involved and produced four catches for 46 yards on five targets. Wright does his best work from the slot, which could pose a problem for the Ravens. Webb has made several impact plays this season, but his one-on-one coverage against slot receivers has been rather poor overall. Assuming the Ravens effectively shut down their rushing attack, Wright matched up on Webb is the Bears best option to salvage their offense.