To start up: 1 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
TV: WBFF Canal 45 (Baltimore); The game is not available in the Washington, DC market; FOX Team Adam Amin (play-by-play), Greg Olsen (analyst), Pam Oliver (sideline)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) and 98 Rock (97.9 FM), Ravens team Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Femi Ayanbadejo (analyst)
The Ravens lead the series all-time, 5-2, and have a four-game winning streak. Their last meeting was in 2019 on Monday Night Football, when the Ravens dominated, 45-6, en route to a franchise-best 14-2 regular season. Lamar Jackson threw five touchdown passes, including a pair to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Baltimore was virtually unstoppable, scoring touchdowns on its first six possessions. Jimmy Smith and Marcus Peters both had an interception as the Rams totaled just 221 attacking yards, Cooper Kupp was limited to six catches for 35 yards and Aaron Donald had just one tackle.
A win would keep Baltimore’s playoff hopes alive no matter what happens on Sunday. However, a loss would seriously damage the Ravens’ playoff chances and they would need a lot of help even if they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to the New York Times playoff simulator, the Ravens can only be eliminated on Sunday if they lose and the Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers all win. The Rams have already landed a playoff berth and can take NFC West with a win and a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Who will play the Ravens quarterback in an unavoidable situation?
Jackson did not train Thursday or Friday and was limited on Wednesday. Head coach John Harbaugh said on Friday Jackson “had a chance” to play, but Tyler Huntley trained Thursday and Friday after returning from the Reserve / COVID-19 list and said he was ready to go. The Ravens will need their quarterback to shift the offense consistently, facing a Rams team that is sixth in the NFL in scoring (27.7 points per game). Huntley played well when he was called up this season, but if he starts on Sunday it will be the most important game of his young career.
After giving Cincinnati 525 passing yards, can Baltimore handle the Rams’ aerial attack?
Baltimore has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL this season, and the high school will miss another key element without cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs), who was ruled out on Friday. Kupp leads the NFL in catches, yards and touchdowns, while Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson are reliable targets for Matthew Stafford, one of the league’s top pure passers. This is another tough matchup for the Ravens, and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale may need to get creative with the covers.
Will the Ravens’ offensive line minimize Donald’s impact?
Donald had his best month of the season in December, and he called Sunday a “recovery” game, recalling how the Ravens did with the Rams in 2019. Only Maxx Crosby of the Raiders has more pressure this season (87 ) than Donald (81), according to Pro Football Focus. The Ravens can often overtake Donald, but that could give more opportunities for Leonard Floyd (12 sacks) and Von Miller to reach the Baltimore quarterback from the sidelines. Baltimore’s offensive line will need solid play to prevent Donald from having a negative impact.
Matches to watch
Ravens CB Tavon Young, Chris Westry vs. Rams WR Cooper Kupp
With Averett out, Young and Westry will have their hands full against Kupp, the league’s most productive player. Receivers line up in several places in head coach Sean McVay’s offense, looking for the matchups they want and trying to confuse the high school. Kupp leads the league in receiving yards (1,734) by a wide margin because it’s hard for any team to stop, and the Ravens are playing without their Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Averett. Westry, Young, Jimmy Smith, and Kevon Seymour may all have a chance at Kupp, but it’s hard to imagine the Ravens containing Kupp unless Young, Westry, or both play a big part in making it happen.
Ravens C Bradley Bozeman, G Kevin Zeitler v Rams DT Aaron Donald
Blocking Donald is often not a one-man job, and the Ravens’ offensive line will have to work cohesively to keep him at bay. Bozeman and Zeitler are Baltimore’s best offensive home linemen and Bozeman explained this week how excited he is to take on Donald. The Ravens have allowed 49 sacks this season and if Donald gets constant pressure down the middle, it could be a long day for the Baltimore offense.
Ravens TE Mark Andrews v Rams CB Jalen Ramsey
How often Ramsey faces Andrews remains to be seen, but Ramsey can float to Andrews in key situations, especially if Baltimore forward Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (sick) does not play after missing practice Thursday and Friday. Andrews only needs 15 yards to set the franchise record for most receiving yards in a season, and he’s established himself as the league’s top tight end this season. It’s the kind of challenge Ramsey relishes.