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Ravens vs. Bengals: 5 Matchups to Watch

September 12, 2018 - 2:20 pm
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By Joe Schiller

Marlon Humphrey vs. A.J. Green

Known as the Ravens’ kryptonite, A.J. Green has put together career performances in these divisional matchups. One cannot forget a 227 yard, two-touchdown game back in 2015 but since then, Green has totaled 125 yards and one touchdown in three games.

Jimmy Smith will serve the second of his four-game suspension, leaving Marlon Humphrey with the top coverage duties again. Humphrey recorded a game-high four pass breakups in a blowout win against the Bills but this week’s matchup figures to be much more challenging against a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. The size advantage could be a huge disadvantage for the second year corner. 

 

James Hurst vs. Carlos Dunlap

Last week I highlighted the Bills’ interior pass rush as a potential problem for center Matt Skura and the offensive line but Joe Flacco stayed relatively clean in the pocket, getting sacked just twice. This week right James Hurst gets his first true test of the season, matching up across the line against Carlos Dunlap.

Dunlap practiced in full on Wednesday despite being limited earlier in the week with a calf injury. The veteran defensive end has three sacks in his last four games against the Ravens and goes from facing Rick Wagner in 2015, Austin Howard last season to now Hurst. The decision to give Hurst the starting nod was questioned by many including myself. We’ll see if he can hold his own in the pass rush and create running lanes for Alex Collins.

 

Joe Flacco vs. Shawn Williams/Jessie Bates

Given the conditions, just about no one predicted Joe Flacco to finish as one of the top quarterbacks in Week 1 but he did just that – going 25-of-34 through the air with 236 yards and three touchdowns. But his track record against the Bengals (19 touchdowns, 23 interceptions) doesn’t bring about confidence and a safety duo of Shawn Williams and rookie Jessie Bates will provide an interesting matchup to watch.

The Bengals’ secondary allowed 319 passing yards from Andrew Luck – which may seem troubling on the surface – but Luck attempted a league-high 53 passes and averaged only 5.9 yards gained per attempt. How will they fare against a better deep ball with deep threats from the Ravens?



Ravens’ Front-Seven vs. Joe Mixon

Jeremy Hill is gone, Giovani Bernard has taken a back seat and second-year back Joe Mixon is the clear-cut starter for the Bengals. He totaled 149 all-purpose yards against the Colts and is the most dangerous offensive weapon the Ravens are up against on Thursday night.

Mixon is a dual-threat on the ground and in the passing game and we’ve seen the front-seven struggle against similar-type running backs in the past. A trio of Brandon Williams, Brent Urban and Michael Pierce in the trenches will be crucial and I’ll be interested to see how C.J. Mosley and the inside linebackers fare against Mixon in open space. It figures to be a matchup primed for rookie Kenny Young.


Alex Collins vs. Nick Vigil

Aside from an early touchdown, Alex Collins was non-existent from the run game last Sunday. He lost a fumble in the first half and will look to rebound on a short week. It’s the perfect opportunity to do that, considering running back Kenneth Dixon is expected to miss an extended period of time with a knee injury.

But the matchup doesn’t get any easier for Collins and he’ll see plenty of linebacker Nick Vigil throughout the game. Vigil was all over the field against the Colts and totaled 11 solo tackles as part of a defense that allowed just 75 yards on the ground.