After blowing a three-score fourth quarter lead against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, the Baltimore Ravens look to get right as they face a familiar conference rival on the road. Former Raven Matthew Judon will face his old team for the first time since leaving to sign with the New England Patriots in 2021.
What are some of the key matchups to watch for this week?
Morgan Moses vs. Matthew Judon
Judon, much like he was in Baltimore, has become a staple of the Patriots’ defense since joining the team over a year ago. He set a career-high in sacks in his first season in New England with 12.5, earning his third trip to the Pro Bowl. The former fifth-round pick by the Ravens out of Grand Valley State will surely look to show his old team what they have been missing on the field this Sunday. Judon primarily lines up across from right tackles, meaning he will face the veteran Morgan Moses for much of the game.
Moses has been steady through his first two games with Baltimore since signing a three-year contract this offseason. According to PFF, Moses has allowed just one pressure and one sack thus far with a pass-blocking grade of 76.4 — the highest among the Ravens’ starting offensive linemen. Meanwhile, PFF has credited Judon with six pressures to go with two sacks and a pass-rushing grade of 65.7.
New England safeties vs. Mark Andrews
Throughout his legendary tenure with the Patriots, Head Coach Bill Belichick has consistently game-planned to take away the opposing offense's best weapon. In this case, aside from quarterback Lamar Jackson, that would be All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews.
Andrews has proven to be one of the most difficult players to cover in the NFL, but Belichick will certainly try to eliminate Jackson’s favorite target through a variety of means. Safeties Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips have taken most of their snaps in the box so far this season, so a combination of the two could be used against Andrews. However, both players were listed as questionable for Sunday. Veteran free safety Devin McCourty will also be a factor in limiting Andrews’ production on deeper routes.
Rashod Bateman vs. Patriots’ cornerbacks
Bateman entered his second season in the NFL with lofty expectations as the team’s clear top wide receiver. Through two games, the former first-rounder has delivered. Bateman has caught six passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns — a 55-yarder against the New York Jets and a 75-yarder against the Dolphins. If New England is indeed able to take away Andrews in the passing game, then the Ravens will rely on Bateman to win his matchups against either cornerback Jalen Mills or Jonathan Jones on the outside.
Both Mills and Jones have lined up on either boundary of the defense. It is worth nothing, though, that Mills was tasked with covering top wide receiver Diontae Johnson for much of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2.
Justin Madubuike and Michael Pierce vs. Cole Strange
The rookie left guard of the Patriots will have his hands full on Sunday against a combination of Madubuike and Pierce. After a dominant showing in Week 1, Baltimore’s defensive line was unable to generate consistent pressure on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 2.
Both Madubuike and Pierce will likely see a fair number of snaps against Strange, who has a PFF pass-blocking grade of 60.5. The first-rounder out of Chattanooga has only allowed two pressures through two games while Madubuike and Pierce have combined for 11 pressures.