Ravens-Panthers matchups/prediction

I was debating on even writing a preview since I know that Carolina is going to get absolutely destroyed this week but I figured I should break down the key matchups anyway since I like you guys.

Panthers passing offense vs. Ravens pass defense

I’m sure that most of you know that the Panthers starting QB will be Brian St. Pierre for this game and I’d love to give a detailed scouting report on him but I can’t. Why? Because he hasn’t thrown more 10 passes in his NFL career despite being in the league for 7 years. I did track down some pre-season stats, though and judging from them, he’s woefully inaccurate and turnover prone. Not good, especially when Ed Reed is on the other side of the ball.

I mentioned in my report on the Ravens that teams who pass the ball well are more likely to beat Baltimore and the Panthers are going to want to limit St. Pierre as much as possible in this game consider we signed him only two weeks ago. What are the chances he even knows the offense by now? This has all the makings of a complete trainwreck. My prediction for this is that the Ravens will blitz with Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata on a lot of plays to rough up St. Pierre a little bit and force him to throw errant passes. Jarrett Johnson will probably factor into this too.

The Panthers receivers actually match up with the Ravens secondary well since Steve Smith is probably going to be covered by Ladarius Webb and possibly double teamed by Dawan Landry. Brandon LaFell being injured with a concussion is going to hurt us, though. David Gettis had one great game so far but can he do it again? He’s catching almost everything thrown his way and he’s got a favorable matchup against Josh Wilson or Fabian Washington. Then comes the question of whether or not St. Pierre can get the ball too him or not. I’m going to say no. What I’m really hoping is that Carolina can get something going with the run game so that we don’t force the game into St. Pierre’s hands.

Broken record time…IF ARMANTI EDWARDS IS ACTIVE….then that could possibly add some spark to the offense that desperately needs it. Whether he lines up in the Mountaineer formation or at receiver. We’ve got nothing left to lose, right? Just play the kid, Fox.

Matchups:  Steve Smith vs. Ladarius Webb, David Gettis vs. Fabian Washington  or Josh Wilson.

Panthers rushing offense vs. Ravens rush defense

Ravens have always played well against the run and this year is no different. With Jonathan Stewart still missing practice with a concussion, it means that Mike Goodson will get the start again. He did well against Tampa, who has a bad rush defense, but I don’t think he’s the kind of back that can match up to this defense. Rashard Mendenhall, Peyton Hillis, Cedric Benson, Fred Jackson and Danny Woodhead all had respectable games against them and most of them aside from Jackson are power backs. Goodson isn’t that big of a guy and he doesn’t have the best speed. He’s good at finding holes and seams in the defense but that’s about it. We can always use Josh Vaughan, too since he’s bigger but he isn’t fast at all and I don’t see him being more than a short-yardage back.

Baltimore’s front seven is going to be licking their chops at the matchup they have here. Couple that with a poor offensive line then they should be able to halt our running game and put it into Clausen’s hands.

Matchup: Mike Goodson vs. Kelly Gregg, Terrance Cody, Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain

Panthers offensive line vs. Ravens defensive line

Ravens run a 3-4 and the guys we’re going to lookout for here are Haloti Ngata and he will likely line up against Gary Williams and Geoff Schwartz, which works heavily in his favor. Also, Travelle Wharton is still out with a turf toe injury and replacing him at left guard is Mackenzey Bernadeau. Thankfully, Jordan Gross is protecting St. Pierre’s blindside instead of him. All I have to say is they better be prepared for a lot of blitzes from this defense. Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson are going to be coming off the ends on a lot of plays and making a bee-line right for the QB. Results could be scary.

Matchups: Jeff King vs. Terrell Suggs, Jordan Gross vs. Cory Redding/Jarrett Johnson, Ryan Kalil vs. Kelly Gregg

Ravens passing offense vs. Panthers pass defense

Flacco is on pace to have the best season of his career and this is a perfect game for him to pad his stats against. The Ravens love to line their receivers up in different sets to create mismatches in the defense and it helps that they have 4 WRs who would make great #1 or 2 receivers on any team. Then there’s both Todd Heap and Ed Dickson at tight end who will definitely find ways to get open against this defense. Chris Gamble’s been the one of the few consistently solid defenders on this team and I know he will do his best to contain Derrick Mason and/or Anquan Boldin. However, there is a chance that one of those is being covered by Richard Marshall or Captain Munnerlyn, which isn’t good news at all. Captain has been playing well the last few weeks but Marshall’s been abused and he seems to know that he’s on his way out at the end of the year. It’s up to Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin to keep these receivers from gaining any yards after the catch because I don’t think our corners will be enough to do that.

Matchups: Chris Gamble vs. Anquan Boldin/Derrick Mason, Todd Heap vs. Nic Harris, TJ Houshmandzadeh vs. Richard Marshall

Ravens rushing offense vs. Carolina rushing defense

The Panthers have been terrible at stopping the run and short passes and now they have to go up against Ray Rice….yeah I don’t like the sound of that either. To add to this, Jon Beason is listed as questionable and if he’s out then Abdul Hodge will take his place. We only signed him a couple weeks ago, too. So yeah, I hope that Derek Landri can go back to his early season form to at least halt Rice a little bit. Willis McGahee can also be dangerous on screen passes, too. With the state our linebacking corps is in, I am not confident at all in our ability to stop either Rice or McGahee. There’s a good chance that the Ravens will target Nic Harris with their runs to have him make the tackles instead of Beason or Anderson, which probably wont bode well for us.

Matchups: Ray Rice vs. James Anderson/Jon Beason

Ravens offensive line vs. Panthers defensive line

Well, the only chance we have to stop this Ravens offense is to get in Flacco’s head a little bit and possibly force a few turnovers since he’s more prone to do that on the road. The good news out of the injury report is that Charles Johnson seems to be fine and so is Greg Hardy. The problem is that Michael Oher will be blocking him so that doesn’t work in our favor. Maybe Everette Brown or Tyler Brayton can take advantage of a favorable matchup with Marshal Yanda? Who knows. Just do something and stop the damn run for once.

What I Want From This Game

– No injuries. Because I kept telling to myself that things can’t get any worse this season and then the injuries start piling up. Hopefully the Ravens keep things clean. The reason Clausen isn’t even playing in this game is because of Aqib Talib’s dirty hit on him at the end of last week’s game. He didn’t receive a fine for that, either. Garbage.

– A respectable score. Just don’t get blown out, please. Dealing with the Ravens fans at school here is going to suck the day after.

Think that’s pretty much it. I’m keeping my expectations low.

Prediction:

Now, I know I always do this in the scenario of “if the Panthers win, the score would be….” but I do not see us having a chance in this game at all. However, just for the sake of being an optimist, I’ll say that the Panthers are going to need to get into a shootout with the Ravens if they want to win. This is implying that Brian St. Pierre will play well though, which is doubtful. So, if the Panthers win it will be a score of 31-27 with the final score coming on the last drive.

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