I don’t care that Josh McCown is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears this Sunday; the Baltimore Ravens still have a tough matchup on the outside, and their secondary will certainly be tested with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
As good as the Ravens’ secondary has been, they will have their hands full with not only this pair of receivers but also tight end Martellus Bennett. Baltimore has struggled in covering tight ends this season but has done an admirable job since the bye week in stopping guys at that position. Still, given the attention Marshall and Jeffery will command, they may have a tougher job in covering Bennett in addition to the two stellar receivers.
The Ravens could stop these guys and surprise a lot of people, much like they did against the Cincinnati Bengals for the most part. Yes, A.J. Green did have himself a fairly solid game and we all know what happened with the Hail Mary at the end of regulation, but a lot of the Bengals’ other weapons were limited for the most part. One of the main concerns heading into that game was how were the Ravens not only going to attempt to stop their No. 1 threat but how they were going to corral the plethora of weapons at their disposal.
The same problem exists this week, and this defense should be up to the challenge.
They also have a dual-threat back in Matt Forte who possesses similar skills to that of Giovani Bernard of the Bengals. While the skill sets are similar, head coach Marc Trestman does different things with the Bears offense that allows for guys like Marshall and Jeffery to shine.
Jeffery is a big receiver like Marshall, as he stands at 6-foot-3, 216 pounds. If you want to see the kind of receiver he is watch the touchdown grab he had against the Green Bay Packers Nov. 4. You’ll see a guy who doesn’t have impressive speed but is physical, attacks the football and has strong mitts that help him reel in tough grabs. I would imagine the Ravens would like to matchup Jimmy Smith at times with Jeffery to assist in derailing his routes by pressing him at the line.
But they also have another huge target opposite Jeffery that is an even bigger threat to the Baltimore secondary.
Brandon Marshall stands at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and is a tough matchup for any cornerback in the league to handle one-on-one. As good as Lardarius Webb is for the Ravens — he lines up on the left side of the field and may not face Marshall every play — even he will require some help over the top this game from the safeties.
James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam will have to elevate their play Sunday and be more than just guys who can finish tackles and make big hits. Both showed last week that they are more than capable, and Ihedigbo has especially showed tremendous signs of progress in pass coverage. Considering he’s primarily been a fill-in guy on defense and a special teams role player throughout his career, if he continues to build off of his nine tackle, three passes defended and two interception performance like he had in Week 10, sky’s the limit with the 29-year-old. It’s just a matter of time before Elam begins to follow in his footsteps as he becomes more and more acclimated to the free safety position each and every week.
See if the “Monsters of the Midway” can out perform the Ravens secondary and lead the Bears to a win! Get your Bears tickets now!