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Ravens vs. Falcons: Key matchups

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to bounce back this week against the Atlanta Falcons. They suffered their first divisional loss last week to the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens will once again be without quarterback Lamar Jackson as he remains sidelined with a knee injury. What are some of the key matchups that could determine Saturday’s contest?

Drake London vs. Brandon Stephens

Cornerback Marcus Peters has been ruled out of Week 16’s game with the calf injury he suffered against the Browns last Saturday, leaving a massive void opposite of Marlon Humphrey at the position. Second-year cornerback Brandon Stephens replaced Peters during the game and should be in line to shoulder a big workload this week. While the Falcons are not overflowing with talent at the wide receiver position at the moment, rookie first-round pick Drake London does present a matchup problem for Baltimore’s secondary without Peters.

The No. 8 overall pick has accumulated 603 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 54 catches so far this season. While he has struggled with consistency at times during his rookie campaign, London’s size and ability after the catch make him a dangerous player to defend. London will surely see his fair shair of Humphrey this week, but he will likely find himself going against Stephens as well. Whether rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder can exploit this potential matchup will be determined on Saturday.

Grady Jarrett vs. Tyler Linderbaum

As usual, one of the most important matchups of the week will take place in the trenches as rookie first-round center Tyler Linderbaum takes on defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. The two-time Pro Bowler has been one of the best at his position for years and is once again in the midst of a strong season with seven sacks and 37 pressures, according to PFF.

Linderbaum has been a welcomed addition for the Ravens after years of turnover at the center position. Through his first 14 games, Linderbaum has allowed three sacks and 23 pressures, according to PFF. Where he has shined has been in the run game, boasting an 83.4 run-blocking grade (fifth among centers.) Jarrett currently ranks No. 57 in run defense among interior defensive lineman, according to PFF.

Ravens’ rushing attack vs. Falcons’ run defense

With Tyler Huntley at quarterback again this week, a passing attack seemingly stuck in mud, and cold weather in the forecast, Baltimore’s offense should heavily funnel through the run game this week. The Ravens currently have the second-most rushing yards in the league with 2,306 yards, only behind the Chicago Bears. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s defense has allowed 1,818 rushing yards (12th most in the NFL).

Running back J.K. Dobbins has been particularly effective since returning earlier this month. In his two games back, Dobbins has rushed for 245 yards on 28 carries for 8.7 yards per carry. While Dobbins’ pre-injury speed has yet to return, the third-year back has still busted through for several long runs with four over 15 yards and seven over ten yards over the past two games. Dobbins’ longest runs over that span have gone for 37 and 44 yards.