The Ravens are coming off of another dominant win; this time it was against the Rams 45-6. Now, they will face their toughest test since the Patriots with the 49ers in what many are calling a potential Super Bowl preview. Here are 5 players to watch on Sunday.
Center Matt Skura suffered a season-ending knee injury during Monday night's victory over the Rams. Undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari was thrust into the starting lineup in Skura's place and performed well on Monday night. John Harbaugh spoke highly of Mekari to Ryan Mink of the Ravens official site after the game, “To step in there and still play at that high level ... I mean, Matt Skura was playing at a very high level. It looks Patrick did the same, there was no drop off at all.”
The 49ers defensive line is among the best in the league and caused problems for the Packers last week. Nevertheless, Mekari held his own against Aaron Donald. Let's see if he can keep it going.
The Ravens play through their running game, and they did not veer away from that against the Rams. They got Mark Ingram the ball early and never looked back. Ingram finished with 111 rushing yards and both a receiving and a rushing touchdown.
The 49ers defense has been unstoppable against the pass but not against the run. They are giving up 4.7 yards per carry this season which is only 26th in the NFL. Establishing Ingram early in the game also tends to open up running lanes for Lamar Jackson off the read option.
Relying on Ingram to start the game once again is the right move.
As I previously mentioned, the 49ers are more vulnerable against the run than the pass. Fortunately, that plays right to Lamar Jackson's strengths. Jackson has already proven that he can beat elite defenses as a passer, but his rushing ability may be exactly what the Ravens need on Sunday. After all, Jackson is the Ravens leading rusher this season, and the 49ers could struggle to stop the read option with Jackson and Ingram.
Jackson's mobility should also help against their elite pass rush. Last Sunday, the 49ers were able to put a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and he was often unable to even release the football. Jackson's speed allows him to evade pass rushers and turn potential sacks into positive rushing plays.
Jackson may be the exact player the 49ers cannot gameplan to stop.
Marcus Peters is a turnover machine. After his interception last week, he is now tied for the league lead with 5. Even more impressive is the fact that he returned 3 of those for touchdowns. With the Ravens, he has 3 interceptions in 5 weeks.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a good quarterback, but he can make mistakes. He is currently tied for 7th in the league with 10 interceptions. Let's see if Peters can make another big play.
Matthew Judon has been on fire lately recording 3 sacks and forcing 2 fumbles in the past 2 games. He also got free Taco Bell and took a sip of a fan's beer.
The Ravens defense has not missed a beat since Pernell McPhee landed on the IR thanks to Judon, Tyus Bowser, and Patrick Onwuasor. Garoppolo has traditionally underperformed when under pressure. Hopefully, Judon and the pass rush can continue to play at a high level.