Week 12 is nearly over, unless you’re the Los Angeles Rams or the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are preparing for kickoff on Monday Night Football. The importance of the game looms large, mainly for the Rams as the NFC (and the NFC West) continue to widen the gap as the top teams in the conference continue winning.
Let’s get into the matchups to watch:
S Taylor Rapp vs. QB Lamar Jackson
The Rams — and Rapp in particular — will have their hands full as they oppose arguably the best and most exciting player in football in Jackson. The electric ability and mobility are incredibly flashy and create many jaw-dropping highlight plays, but make no mistake, Jackson has a lethal arm to boot. Rapp is likely to be used as a spy in certain points as well as an extra rusher to help the defensive line maintain gap control and responsibility, though no team has really shown the ability to completely shutdown Jackson yet. The idea will be to contain Jackson, and to specifically remove any major game-changing plays.
ILB Cory Littleton vs. TE Mark Andrews
The Ravens’ biggest weapon (outside of Jackson) is easily Andrews, though Jackson does feel a high-level of comfort targeting all of his tight ends, including Hayden Hurst — to a lesser degree — and Nick Boyle. Andrews is essentially an oversized slot receiver who has 598 receiving yards and six touchdowns on the season. Littleton will be tasked with covering Andrews, as will Rapp. Both guys are going to be relied upon in major spots and on important down-and-distances. This matchup could help decide the game.
WR Robert Woods (or Josh Reynolds) vs. CB Marcus Peters
You just knew Peters would find his way on this list, and deservedly so. Since being traded for a can of expired string beans, Peters has upped his game from good to elite, registering two pick-sixes and four pass deflections in four games with the Ravens. Woods — or Reynolds in case Woods isn’t active — is going to see the most coverage from Peters. It’s a matchup of two heavyweights who have a ton of familiarity with each other after practicing opposite of each other for nearly two years.
Rams’ OL vs. Ravens’ DL
As it stands, the Rams are likely to start the same five offensive lineman from the Week 11 win over the Chicago Bears. The unit was: LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Austin Corbett, C Austin Blythe, RG David Edwards, and RT Bobby Evans. The pass rush of the Ravens starts with edge rusher Matt Judon as he’s registered 22 pressures and six sacks on the season. The offensive line needs to give QB Jared Goff time to operate, as well as open holes for the running game to remain productive and allow the offense to stay in positive down-and-distance scenarios.
EDGE’s Clay Matthews/Dante Fowler Jr. vs. OT’s Ronnie Stanley/Orlando Brown Jr.
The duo of Matthews and Fowler are of the utmost importance for the Rams tonight. Not only because they’ll need a pass rush (as always), but they — as well as the remainder of the defensive line — need to maintain their rushing lanes and try to contain the explosiveness of Jackson inside and outside of the pocket. The Ravens deploy one of the best duos at tackle with Stanley and Brown, giving the defensive line of the Rams even more to deal with.