The Baltimore Ravens took the lead in the AFC North with a Week 5 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens now return to MetLife Stadium for the second time this season to face the 4-1 New York Giants.
What are some of the key matchups for Baltimore’s Week 6 game?
Lamar Jackson vs. Don “Wink” Martindale’s blitz
After parting ways with the Ravens this offseason, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale will face the team he was with for a decade this Sunday. He’s been preparing the Giants’ defense to stop quarterback Lamar Jackson.
After struggling against the blitz last season, Jackson has excelled against it so far this year and no defense has blitzed more than Martindale’s through five games. According to profootballreference.com, New York has blitzed on 43.3% of dropbacks. It would be very uncharacteristic of Martindale to dial back the pressure, even against Jackson.
Jackson will be without his top wide receiver Rashod Bateman yet again this week. Bateman was instrumental in countering the Miami Dolphins’ heavy blitz approach in Week 2. Expect quick passes or screens to get the ball into the hands of tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Devin Duvernay, and running back J.K. Dobbins to counter any blitzes the Giants bring on Sunday.
Patrick Queen vs. Saquon Barkley
Inside linebacker Patrick Queen is coming off one of the best games of his career. The third-year linebacker will be pivotal in stopping superstar running back Saquon Barkley this week. Barkley has been the focal point of New York’s offense this season, rushing for 533 yards (second most in the NFL) and three touchdowns on 97 carries (second most in the NFL) while adding another 143 yards through the air on a team-leading 18 catches.
Baltimore has struggled against the run since losing defensive tackle Michael Pierce earlier in the season. Queen’s sideline-to-sideline speed will be needed to prevent Barkley from breaking off big runs this week. Queen will also likely find himself matched up against Barkley in coverage on multiple plays. Shutting down Barkley and forcing the Giants to lean on quarterback Daniel Jones should be the game plan.
Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Evan Neal
Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul has proven to be a shrewd pickup for the Ravens through his first two games with the team. The veteran edge rusher will face the No. 7 overall pick for much of this week’s contest. Rookie right tackle Evan Neal has struggled so far in his rookie campaign, allowing five sacks and 13 pressures through five games. Pierre-Paul will have an opportunity to pit his experience against the newcomer on passing downs this Sunday.
Getting pressure on quarterback Daniel Jones will be key to forcing him into mistakes against a turnover-hungry defense. While he only has one so far this season, Jones has fumbled the ball 37 times in his career with many coming in the pocket when under pressure.