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Ravens vs. Panthers: Key matchups

Battle in the trenches

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens will return from their bye week looking to extend their win streak to four as they take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 11. What are some of the key matchups to keep an eye on for Sunday’s contest against the Panthers?

Brian Burns vs. Ronnie Stanley

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has reintegrated himself as one of the league’s top offensive tackles after missing the better part of the past two years. Stanley will face a worthy opponent this Sunday as he takes on defensive end Brian Burns. Through ten weeks, Burns has accumulated seven sacks to go with 41 total pressures (Sixth in the NFL.)

Stanley is currently PFF’s highest-graded pass blocker at the offensive tackle position with a 92.0 grade while being assigned with only allowing two pressures all season. Carolina could instead deploy Burns against right tackle Morgan Moses in order to try and gain a beneficial matchup, but he has spent most of his snaps across from left tackles this season.

Derrick Brown vs. Tyler Linderbaum

The Ravens have seemingly hit on their second of two first-round picks this year as center Tyler Linderbaum has enjoyed a strong rookie season. One area he has struggled at times in, however, has been in pass protection. Linderbaum currently sits with a PFF pass-blocking grade of 51.4 with two sacks and 13 pressures allowed in nine games.

Defensive tackle Derrick Brown will present a tough challenge for Linderbaum on Sunday. The former first-round pick currently has a PFF pass-rushing grade of 77.7 to go with 23 pressures and one sack. Brown also has an 87.7 run defense grade, which has been Linderbaum’s strongest attribute this season.

Justin Houston vs. Ikem Ekwonu

On the other side of the trenches, Baltimore has a potential matchup exploit of their own when outside linebacker Justin Houston faces rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu. The No. 6 overall pick has had a solid season thus far with a PFF pass-blocking grade of 79.2 to go with 15 pressures and three sacks on 321 snaps. The rookie will be tested by one of the league’s savviest veterans this week, however.

On just 182 snaps this season, Houston has amassed a total of 8.5 sacks — fourth most in the NFL. The 33-year-old Houston has been the best edge rusher for the Ravens this season after seemingly finding the fountain of youth. Houston has totaled at least two sacks in the previous three games.