On the defensive side of the ball, Baltimore lost CB Jimmy Smith to a lower leg strain and DT Haloti Ngata to a sprained knee for the game, while team leader and LB Ray Lewis (triceps) and No. 1 cornerback Lardarius Webb (ACL) are out for the season.
This is going to severely impact the Ravens' chances to get back to the AFC title game and certainly drops their odds of winning the Super Bowl significantly.
At 5-1 through six games, Baltimore should certainly still make the playoffs, but it does have some unfavorable matchups that just got a bit tougher with the recent personnel losses. Let’s take a look at a few that Webb will certainly be missed in.
Week 7—at Houston Texans
Webb would have been tasked with guarding Andre Johnson here, and it’s going to be a lot harder to stop Ben Tate and Arian Foster from attacking the front seven with Lewis absent.
While the Ravens did match up well with Houston on paper, these injuries certainly give the advantage to Houston—a team that is reeling after a tough loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Expect Texans coach Gary Kubiak to instruct his players to attack the newest weak points in this defense relentlessly.
Week 11—at Pittsburgh Steelers
In what is almost always one of the most hard-hitting, smash-mouth football contests of the year, Baltimore will be severely disadvantaged without Lewis and Webb in a road game against its biggest rival.
The Steelers have gotten much faster in the wide receiver department, with the emergence of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to complement Mike Wallace. Baltimore is going to need its secondary to step up in order to contain this trio, and that task is much more difficult with Webb not on the field.
Week 17—at Cincinnati Bengals
Which matchup is now the toughest without Webb?
There’s a good chance that a lot of playoff implications are riding on this game that will close out the regular 2012-13 football season. Expect both franchises to be fighting tooth and nail for the victory.
Since A.J. Green has emerged as one of the top receivers in the NFL, it’s going to be tough for Baltimore to shut him down without its top corner.
Expect the Ravens to do everything they can to get pressure on QB Andy Dalton in order to minimize Green’s damage.