On a short week following an exhilarating comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, the 4-1 Ravens now face perhaps their toughest challenge of the season on Sunday when they host the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers.
In this article, I will detail several key matchups to keep an eye on in this week’s clash of two AFC contenders.
Patrick Mekari vs. Joey Bosa
Patrick Mekari will face his toughest test yet this Sunday since taking over the right tackle position for Baltimore when he faces elite edge rusher Joey Bosa.
Mekari has filled in admirably at right tackle starting in Week 2, tying for the second-best Pass Block Win Rate for offensive tackles through Week 5 via ESPN.
Best OT Pass Block Win Rate Through Week 5 (ESPN)— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) October 12, 2021
James Hurst: 98%
Rob Havenstein, Lane Johnson, Charles Leno Jr: 95%
Jack Conklin, Patrick Mekari, Andrew Whitworth: 94%
Morgan Moses, Ryan Ramczyk, Jedrick Wills: 93%
Bosa is a different animal than the players Mekari has dealt with so far, however. Bosa has been one of the NFL’s elite edge rushers since entering the league in 2016. The Ravens will have to continue to help Mekari in pass protection with chips and double teams this week to keep Bosa from wrecking the game.
Derwin James vs. Mark Andrews
On the heels of the best game of his career, tight end Mark Andrews will once again be relied upon through the air in a game that is shaping up to be a shootout. The Chargers have a secret weapon on their side in the form of safety Derwin James, however, who has been one of the best do-it-all safeties in the NFL when on the field, including covering opposing tight ends such as Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs.
James will likely be deployed all over the field against Baltimore, but expect to see him match up against Andrews in coverage frequently on Sunday to try and take away Jackson’s go-to target in the passing game — especially in clutch situations.
Justin Herbert vs. Anthony Averett
There are two places to expect quarterback Justin Herbert to attack through the air the most against the Ravens: the inside linebackers and cornerback Anthony Averett.
Prior to Week 5, Averett was playing at a high level in place of the injured Marcus Peters — allowing one of the league’s lowest passer ratings when targeted. That changed against the Colts though as quarterback Carson Wentz continually attacked Averett’s side of the field. According to PFF, Averett allowed 10 catches on 12 targets for 190 yards and a touchdown on Monday night.
While wide receiver Mike Williams is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s showdown, Los Angeles still has other quality weapons to attack Averett with, especially with how well Herbert is playing this season.
Averett will have to bounce back from a horrendous outing in Week 5 if Baltimore wants to slow down the Chargers.
Ravens’ ground game vs. Chargers’ run defense
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Ravens have forged a new identity on offense. Without the rushing attack functioning to its usual high level under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Baltimore has taken on the identity of a passing offense. While Jackson has thrived passing the ball this season, the Ravens would love to get back to dominating teams on the ground, and this week presents that opportunity.
Los Angeles has allowed a league-worst 157.6 rushing yards per game through the first five weeks while allowing the second-most total rushing yards. Baltimore’s 43-game streak of games with at least 100 rushing yards came to an end on Monday against Indianapolis, meaning Baltimore is tied for the all-time record with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens struggled to reach 100 rushing yards the week before against the Denver Broncos as well.
Odafe Oweh vs. Rashawn Slater and Storm Norton
Rookie edge rusher Odafe Oweh continues to stand out as one of the team’s best defenders already. Through five weeks, Oweh has three sacks, 16 pressures, and two forced fumbles according to SIS DateHub. There is no denying the impact the rookie out of Penn State has had in big moments for an otherwise struggling defense so far this season.
Oweh will face another of the league’s most impressive rookies on Sunday when he lines up against left tackle Rashawn Slater. Slater has played to the level of one of the league’s best offensive tackles already through five weeks. Oweh’s rare speed from the edge will be a test for Slater.
Highest pressure-rate among rookie EDGEs (min. 65 pass-rushes)— PFF BAL Ravens (@PFF_Ravens) October 15, 2021
Odafe Oweh- 12.8%
Lowest pressure-rate allowed among rookie OTs (min. 65 pass-blocking snaps)
Rashawn Slater- 4.5%
These two match up on Sunday pic.twitter.com/hGqrbdz5pF
Meanwhile, Los Angeles has a major weakness at right tackle in the form of Storm Norton. Norton was forced into the starting lineup following an injury to veteran Bryan Bulaga and has struggled in pass protection. Oweh has lined up just about everywhere on defense so far this season, and that could continue on Sunday in order to take advantage of a potentially huge matchup advantage on the right side of the offensive line.