By Trevor Woods
The Ravens (8-2) look to extend their six-game winning streak in a Week 12 matchup with the Rams (6-4). Los Angeles is looking to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Here are four key matchups:
Jared Goff vs. Ravens pass-rush
Rams quarterback Jared Goff was pressured just once on 18 drop backs last week against a good Bears defense, which was the lowest pressure rate in his career. The Rams offensive line has been middle of the pack this year, but last week was an exception.
The Rams are 14-0 under head coach Sean McVay when Goff is pressured on less than 22% of drop backs. The Ravens have the highest blitz percentage in the NFL at 49.9%. Expect Goff to have an erratic and inconsistent day throwing the football with that pressure percentage likely to be above 22%.
Even with Goff's "success" against the Bears, he didn't get much going down the field and had to settle with check downs. In the first half last week Goff completed just one pass beyond the line of scrimmage. If the Ravens are able to pressure Goff consistently and have the ability to wrap up and tackle on screen passes, it's destined to be a long day for the Rams.
Rams offensive scheme vs. Ravens defense
Two of the Rams top three wideouts were inactive last week, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. A week later, both players intend on playing Monday night. What will that mean for the Rams game plan on offense?
Against the Bears the Rams relied on 12 personnel, meaning two tight end sets along with one running back. Todd Gurley had a great game out of 12 personnel, picking up 92 of his 97 rushing yards out of it.
While the Rams may be willing to go right back to what the offense looked like previously, running three and four wide receiver sets, it might be wise for them to stick to what worked last week. This isn't to say they won't run an abundance of 3 WR sets, but Gurley had one of his best games of the season out of 12 personnel and a wise way to attack the Ravens is by running the football. If Gurley doesn't get going, the Ravens will be able to blitz Goff heavily, and that's not a situation the Rams want to be in.
If Cooks and Woods both suit up, that's good news for the Rams offense, but it's in the best interest of the offense as a whole to try and make success out of 12 personnel a trend.
Intel from Rams safety Eric Weddle and Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters
The Rams have a former Raven, the Ravens have a former Ram. How will the fact Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters and Rams safety Eric Weddle impact each respective team's chances of winning? Not much, I'd say. While both players have a wealth of knowledge about the opposing team, it isn't much more than what coaches can see on film.
John Harbaugh said that he doesn't care and that it's more of a story than an issue in regards to Weddle, who claimed that he could tell the Rams a lot of stuff, but that's not who he is. Even if Weddle and Peters both spilled the beans in some way, it wouldn't make a discernible difference.
Defensive coordinators Wink Martindale and Wade Phillips are both among the finest in the NFL, those two are the catalyst for what we'll see on the field, not a pointer here or there from Weddle and Peters, with all due respect. It's a good story on paper, star players facing their former team and exposing secrets. However, the intriguing storyline doesn't add up to reality.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson vs. Rams defensive line
The Rams have a scary defensive line that keeps the squad in games and has the ability to make opposing quarterbacks suffer and hurt. Watch out, Lamar Jackson.
While the Ravens have a good offensive line that excels in both pass protection and run blocking, this will be a stiff test for the unit. Even if the Ravens o-line sputters against the Rams d-line at times, it may not even matter all that much, especially with how Jackson runs the ball. Jackson has rushed for 518 yards when a defender closes in within 1-yard of him. Meaning, even if Aaron Donald is able to pressure Jackson heavily, it may not make a difference, as Donald has the ability to be elusive and get out of trouble, creating big plays in the process.
Opposing edge rushers average 0.94 seconds to cross the line of scrimmage vs. the Ravens, which is the slowest pass rush against any offense in the NFL. That stat doesn't bode well for the Rams, despite the talent up front.