Week 3 is shaping up to be a pivotal game for the Baltimore Ravens. A 3-0 start after stacking another win would be quite valuable as the team attempts to keep pace in a competitive AFC with tougher matchups on the horizon.
The Ravens and Jaguars have both utilized strikingly similar gameplans this year. Each team has relied on imposing defensive fronts and run centric offenses. Naturally, turnovers will be paramount in this ‘throwback’ contest.
Five key Week 3 matchups:
RB Javorius Allen vs OLB Myles Jack
Buck has become a keg cog in the Ravens offense. He has accumulated 172 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 40 touches through the first two weeks of the regular season. With Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead on injured reserve, and Terrance West nursing a calf injury, the Ravens will lean on Allen to move the chains this Sunday. Jacksonville will counter with Jack, a rangy outside linebacker. Myles leads Jacksonville in tackles with 20 on the season and played extremely well against the Texans in Week 1. This individual matchup will go a long way towards determining which team wins the all important time-of-possession battle.
LT Ronnie Stanley vs DE Yannick Ngakoue
Stanley has yet to regain the exceptional pass blocking form he displayed down the stretch last year. Ronnie has allowed multiple quarterback pressures in consecutive weeks. On the other hand, the franchise left tackle has done well when run blocking. Ngakoue has a pair of sacks and two forced fumbles already in 2017. In Week 3 last year, Yannick posted a sack and forced fumble against the Ravens. However, setting the edge against the run is not his strong suit. Ravens right tackle Austin Howard will have his hands full with Calais Campbell, and with Marshal Yanda on the shelf, running to the left side behind Stanley will be the best option.
DT Michael Pierce vs C Brandon Linder
In his second season, Pierce has picked up right where he left off as a rookie. The stout nose guard is adept at collapsing the pocket as well as occupying multiple blockers on run plays. He, along with fellow defensive tackle Carl Davis will be tasked with increased workloads as Baltimore attempts to stifle the Jaguars power rushing attack while Brandon Williams deals with a foot injury. Linder is arguably Jacksonville’s best blocker. The Jaguars have had much more success running on the interior compared to the outside, making this individual matchup a key to victory for both teams.
MLB C.J. Mosley vs RB Leonard Fournette
Strength on strength. Baltimore’s defensive signal caller is currently playing at an All-Pro level. Nevertheless, he had some issues getting off blocks last week after Brandon Williams was sidelined. The Jaguars offense is centered around their rookie power back. Fournette has the second most rushing attempts in the NFL so far, with 40, and a pair of touchdowns. But his 3.5 average yards per carry is rather mediocre. If Mosley can consistently tackle Leonard in the hole, unreasonable burden will be placed on Blake Bortles.
S Tony Jefferson vs QB Blake Bortles
The new safety is the only starting Ravens defensive back who has yet to record an interception this season, Jefferson has also had some problems supporting the cornerbacks in pass coverage, especially on sideline routes. Coordinator Pees will likely put Tony closer to the line of scrimmage for this contest, considering the Jaguars have the 26th ranked passing offense and are without their top target Allen Robinson. This should enable Jefferson to make an impact both rushing the passer and dropping into zone coverage. Bortles has been intercepted twice this season and has averaged 1.38 turnovers over game over his career. If Jefferson can be effectively deployed to confuse Bortles, expect an opportunistic Ravens defense to harass the opposing quarterback into insurmountable mistakes for the third consecutive week.