Baltimore's matchup with the Houston Texans Sunday has plenty of storylines in play.
Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot. Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak is returning to coach against the team that fired him a year ago.
And the game will also feature two of the top defenders in the NFL.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil have put up monster numbers this season, and the Ravens pass rusher is likely Watt's top competition for Defensive Player of the Year.
"They're having legendary years," said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year.
Watt is considered by many as the runaway candidate for the DPOY, but Dumervil has quietly had arguably the best season of his nine-year career. He leads the NFL with 17 sacks and has the potential to threaten Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 sacks.
"He's playing very well," Watt said about Dumervil. "As a defensive lineman, you enjoy watching good football being played, and they're definitely doing a good job of it."
The respect is mutual between the two of them.
"I have a lot of respect for him," Dumervil said. "I think he's a guy who's very dominant. He can do it all – inside, outside – he's a rare talent. Give him credit. He's having a really great year – you can't take that from him. From pass deflections, from sacks, he's a very disruptive player for sure."
So should Dumervil be in the conversation for the defensive award in Watt's estimation?
"I don't pay any attention to those conversations," Watt said. "That's for media and the voters to talk about. All I can do is control what I can control, go out there every single day and practice as hard as I can, study my film and go out there on game day and play as hard as I can. Then, the people can write and vote however they'd like to."
Watt's production this season puts him in a class all by himself. He has 64 tackles, 16.5 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception returned for touchdown. He has also caught three touchdown passes when used on offense.
The stats have even put Watt in the conversation for the league's Most Valuable Player award, which a defensive player hasn't won since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
"They put his stats up on TV the other day, and I thought it was a misprint," Suggs said. "I've never seen numbers like that, with the touchdowns and the forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries and all of that. It's really impressive. It's real impressive. It's good to see a defensive guy get that recognition being that it's a touchdown, quarterback-driven league."
Dumervil and Watt have both shown the ability to be game wreckers on defense this season, and keeping the two defenders out of the backfield is a priority for both teams.
Limiting the star defenders will likely be critical in determining the outcome of Sunday's matchup.
"It will be a good challenge for both offensive lines," Dumervil said. "We have guys that can get after the quarterback, and he's clearly a guy who can get after the quarterback. I'm sure whatever defense plays the best is going to win the game."