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Ravens vs. Rams potential X factors: Ascending playmakers poised to have big impacts

This interconference bout could be decided by contributions from a handful of players.

Baltimore Ravens v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens will take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14 at M&T Bank Stadium in a game in which they are touchdown favorites to win their third straight game. These two teams haven’t faced off since 2021 and both have a lot to play for with playoff spots and seeding on the line.

In almost every game, there is a play or two made that helped swing momentum into a team’s favor or extend their lead. There are a handful of select players who either aren’t being talked about as much or are primed to have a big day.

Below are some of those individuals who could prove to be deciding factors in the final outcome.

WR Rashod Bateman

Baltimore Ravens v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The third-year pro could be poised to finally have his breakout game or at least continue making key contributions. A lot of attention will be paid to three-time Pro Bowl veteran Odell Beckham Jr., who will be facing his former team for the first time on Sunday. Zay Flowers will command more attention from the Rams as well, which will likely give Bateman more opportunities to make plays in single coverage.

He has yet to catch more than four passes or even reach 40+ receiving yards in a single game this season but has a chance to achieve both in this matchup. He’s facing a susceptible Los Angeles secondary that is starting a journeyman and a pair of second-year day three picks at cornerback.

OLB Odafe Oweh

Baltimore Ravens v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Oweh recorded four sacks in his last six games before the bye week and has been a consistent disruptive presence on the edge in every game this season. While Los Angeles has given up the fourth-fewest sacks in the league, they’ve mostly done so by getting the ball out quickly and aiding their tackles in pass protection with extra blockers. Neither scenario has been able to stop Oweh from putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially when he goes up against tight ends.

The Rams are solid at right tackle with veteran Rob Havenstein but have underwhelming third-year pro Alaric Jackson starting at left tackle. Look for the Ravens’ Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald to try to exploit that weakness with Oweh and resurgent veteran edge defenders Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, as well.

RB Keaton Mitchell

NFL: NOV 26 Ravens at Chargers Photo by Kevin Reece/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Rams’ defense has yet to give up over 100 yards in the ground in a single game during their three-game winning streak. However, the Ravens have the league’s top-ranked rushing attack and an electric undrafted rookie running back, who will have an even more featured role down the stretch. Mitchell got his first career start before the team went on bye and has recorded one or more plays of 20+ yards in each of his last four games.

Expect to see him touch the ball early and often both as a ball carrier and receiver out of the backfield. Mitchell’s explosive playmaking ability will help jump-start drives on offense and provide juice to the entire team.

TE Isaiah Likely

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The first half of Likely’s first start in place of Mark Andrews couldn’t have gone any better outside of reaching the end zone. He caught all four of his targets for 40 receiving yards in the Ravens’ Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Unfortunately, he was targeted just once after halftime and didn’t record another reception. In the opportunities that did come his way, though, Likely showed off his dynamic athleticism and exciting run-after-catch ability.

He could be in store for a much heavier workload in both halves this week. The Rams’ defense has given up 14 catches on 20 targets for 126 receiving yards and a touchdown to the tight end position in their last two games.

DT Travis Jones

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The second-year pro has been a force against the run all season and had his best game as a pass rusher against the Chargers heading, with his first share of a sack and just his second quarterback hit. Jones could be poised the finally break out down the final stretch starting this Sunday against veteran signal caller Matthew Stafford, who primarily operates from the pocket.

Generating interior pressure is key to disrupting the Rams’ offensive gameplan and preventing them from finding a rhythm. A lot of attention will likely be given towards Ravens’ fourth-year defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, who leads all interior defensive linemen with 10 sacks. That will create more favorable one-on-one opportunities for Jones to ragdoll offensive guards with his incredible strength and violent hands.