Jets at Ravens: Three matchups to watch

Jets at Ravens: Three matchups to watch
November 23, 2013, 11:30 am
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Justin Tucker continues to evolve as a kicker

The Ravens (4-6) start a three-game homestand Sunday against the Jets (5-5). When the season began, how many people expected the Jets to have more victories than the Ravens heading into Week 12? Both teams need this one badly. Here are three matchups that will help determine the outcome:

1. Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson vs. Ravens’ offensive line

Wilkerson is the complete package – stout against the run, and a superb pass rusher with eight sacks. He’s one reason why the Jets have the No. 1 ranked defense against the run. The Jets move Wilkerson around, so the entire Ravens offensive line will be challenged. Protecting Joe Flacco has been an issue for the Ravens all year. The Ravens can’t allow Wilkerson and the rest of the Jets’ defensive line to take over this game.

2. Ravens WR Torrey Smith vs. Jets corners Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner

Smith is the Ravens’ best deep threat, and the Jets have been vulnerable to the deep pass. Cromartie simply isn’t having one of his best seasons. Milliner is talented, but as a rookie, he’s having the ups and downs that usually go with being a young player. Jacoby Jones is another option when the Ravens want to throw deep. But the Ravens have surely seen enough on film to make them believe Smith can beat these corners.

[RELATED: Ten predictions for Ravens-Jets]

3. Jets quarterback Gene Smith vs. Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees

Smith leads the NFL with 20 turnovers. Some of those mistakes occur when he throws into coverage, or does not recognize where blitzes are coming from. Pees has done a good job this season dialing up blitzes. The Ravens have at least two sacks in 18 straight games, and even if the Jets double-team Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens will bring pressure from elsewhere. By disguising defenses, Pees wants to confuse Smith and get in his head early. If Smith loses his poise in the pocket, it will he harder for the Jets to avoid losing this game.