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Ravens vs. Broncos: Key matchups

NFL: Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens enter Week 13 with a bad taste in their mouth after blowing yet another two-score lead, this time in a 28-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens will look to rebound this week at home against the struggling Denver Broncos.

What are some of the key matchups for Sunday’s game?

Justin Simmons vs. Mark Andrews

Tight end Mark Andrews has yet to have a big game since returning from injury, even dropping an easy touchdown against the Jaguars last week. The All-Pro tight end has not crossed 100 receiving yards in a game or found the endzone since Week 6 against the New York Giants. With the team’s current struggles at the wide receiver position, quarterback Lamar Jackson needs his favorite target to return to form in order to elevate the passing attack, specifically in the redzone.

Andrews will likely see plenty of star safety Justin Simmons against the Broncos this week. The pair went at it last season as well, with Andrews catching three passes for 40 yards against Simmons, according to PFF, in the Week 4 meeting between the two teams.

Ravens’ offense vs. Broncos’ No. 1 red zone defense

Baltimore’s offensive struggles in the red zone are well documented this season. The Ravens currently rank No. 24 in the NFL in red zone scoring percentage, scoring just 51.16% of the time. Meanwhile, Denver boasts the league’s No. 1 redzone defense, allowing a touchdown just 30.77% of the time.

Settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns in the redzone was a major issue that came back to bite Baltimore in their Week 12 loss. While quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos have struggled offensively this season, allowing any team to hang around is playing with fire in the NFL. So, the Ravens must find ways to punch the ball in the endzone on Sunday against an inferior opponent.

Ravens’ No. 3 rushing attack vs. Broncos’ No. 18 run defense

With their aforementioned struggles at wide receiver coupled with the Broncos ranking third in the NFL against the pass and No. 18 against the run, the gameplan for offensive coordinator Greg Roman should be relatively simple on Sunday. Despite playing most of the season without running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, Baltimore currently ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,790.

Edwards returned to the field last week after missing multiple games with a hamstring injury and immediately took over the lead role in the backfield from Kenyan Drake. Edwards could be in for an even bigger workload this week being another week removed from the injury.

Ravens’ pass rush vs. Russell Wilson

The Ravens have done the job when it comes to getting after opposing quarterbacks this season. Baltimore currently has 35 sacks on the season, tied for sixth in the league. Conversely, Wilson has been sacked 36 times on the year, good for fourth-most in the NFL.

Wilson’s tendency to hold the ball longer than most quarterbacks has always led to higher sack numbers for most of his career. The Ravens’ pass rush has a prime opportunity to take over the game this Sunday by making Wilson pay for his indecisiveness from the pocket.