Everything You Need to Know: Ravens vs. Rams

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Basics:

Kickoff: 1 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium

TV: WBFF Channel 45 (Baltimore); The game is not available in the Washington, D.C. market; FOX crew Adam Amin (play-by-play), Greg Olsen (analyst), Pam Oliver (sideline)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) and 98 Rock (97.9 FM), Ravens crew Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Femi Ayanbadejo (analyst)

History

The Ravens lead the all-time series, 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, on their way 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 had just 221 yards total offense, Cooper Kupp was held to six catches for 35 yards, and Aaron Donald had just one tackle.

Stakes

A victory would keep Baltimore's playoff hopes alive, regardless of what else happens on Sunday. However, a loss would seriously damage the Ravens' playoff chances and they would need plenty of help, even if they defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to the New York Times playoff simulator, the Ravens can only be eliminated on Sunday if they lose and if the Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers all win. The Rams have already cliched a playoff berth and can win the NFC West with a victory and a loss by the Arizona Cardinals.

Key Storylines

Who will play quarterback for the Ravens in a must-win situation?

Jackson did not practice Thursday or Friday and was limited Wednesday. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday that Jackson "has a chance" to play, but Tyler Huntley practiced Thursday and Friday after returning from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and declared himself ready to go. The Ravens will need their quarterback to move the offense consistently, facing a Rams team that is sixth in the NFL in scoring (27.7 points per game). Huntley has played well when called upon this season, but if he starts Sunday, it will be the most important game of his young career.

After giving up 525 passing yards in Cincinnati, can Baltimore handle the Rams' aerial attack?

Baltimore has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL this season, and the secondary will be missing another key piece without cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs), who was ruled out Friday. Kupp leads the NFL in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches, while Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson are reliable targets for Matthew Stafford, one of the league's top pure passers. This is another challenging matchup for the Ravens, and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale may have to get creative with coverages.

Will the Ravens offensive line minimize the impact of Donald?

Donald had his best month of the season in December, and he called Sunday a "payback" game, remembering how the Ravens had their way with the Rams in 2019. Only Maxx Crosby of the Raiders has more pressures this season (87) than Donald (81), according to Pro Football Focus. The Ravens may double-team Donald frequently, but that could lead to more opportunities for Leonard Floyd (12 sacks) and Von Miller to get to Baltimore's quarterback from the edges. Baltimore's offensive line will need a solid game to keep Donald from having a negative impact.

Matchups to Watch

Ravens CBs Tavon Young, Chris Westry vs. Rams WR Cooper Kupp

With Averett out, Young and Westry will have their hands full dealing with Kupp, the league's most productive wide out. Receivers line up in multiple spots in Head Coach Sean McVay's offense, looking for the matchups they want and trying to cause confusion in the secondary. Kupp leads the league in receiving yards (1,734) by a wide margin because he's difficult 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 get a crack at Kupp, but it's hard to imagine the Ravens containing Kupp unless Young, Westry or both play a significant role in making it happen.

Ravens C Bradley Bozeman, G Kevin Zeitler vs. Rams DT Aaron Donald

Blocking Donald is often not a one-man job, and the Ravens offensive line will need to work cohesively to keep him at bay. Bozeman and Zeitler are Baltimore's top interior offensive linemen and Bozeman talked this week about how much he looked forward to measuring himself against Donald. The Ravens have allowed 49 sacks this season and if Donald gets consistent pressure up the middle, it could be a long day for Baltimore's offense.

Ravens TE Mark Andrews vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey

How often Ramsey matches up with Andrews remains to be seen, but Ramsey may float toward Andrews in key situations, especially if Baltimore top wideout Marquise "Hollywood" Brown (illness) doesn't play after missing practice Thursday and Friday. Andrews needs just 15 yards to set the franchise record for most receiving yards in a season, and he has established himself as the league's top tight end this season. That's the kind of challenge Ramsey relishes.

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