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A.J. Green vs. Lardarius Webb
The matchup to watch this week will be All-Pro receiver A.J. Green going against cornerback Lardarius Webb. As mentioned before, Webb is coming off a back injury that's caused him to miss nearly two months of football activities.
It's hard to see Webb being back to his self when he plays in his first football game of 2014 on Sunday. When healthy, Webb is one of the NFL's best corners.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Webb's 8.0 grade in 2013 was the 19th best of 77 eligible corners. He will need to be playing close to that level if he hopes to contain Green on Sunday.
As for the aforementioned Green, he caught 98 passes for 1,426 yards and eight scores in 2013. However, in five career games versus Baltimore, Green has just 21 receptions for 334 yards and just two touchdowns.
Webb and the Ravens secondary have done a great job of containing Green when the two teams have faced each other. Whether or not Baltimore can keep this trend going will go a long way toward determining Sunday's winner.
Andre Smith vs. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil
As mentioned previously, Andre Smith is a great right tackle when healthy, but a concussion caused him to miss most of the preseason.
He could be a little rusty on Sunday, and that could lead to Baltimore's two fierce pass-rushers having big games.
In Baltimore's 3-4 defense, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil combine to form one of the NFL's best pass-rushing duos. In 2013, they combined for 19.5 sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Dumervil registered 40 QB hurries and Suggs 37.
On the other side, while Smith had a great 2013 season, one of his worst games came at Baltimore in Week 10. That game saw Smith surrender one sack and five QB hurries.
Ravens X-Factor OT Rick Wagner
Heading into the 2013 NFL season, offensive tackle Rick Wagner is a fairly unknown commodity. As a rookie in 2013, Wagner registered just 131 offensive snaps.
Once starting right tackle Michael Oher left in free agency this offseason, Wagner eventually won the starting job in training camp.
During this preseason, Wagner played in 112 snaps and received a solid 1.2 grade from Pro Football Focus, while surrendering just one sack and one QB hurry.
The Bengals will use several quality defensive ends against Wagner. How well he holds up will go a long way toward determining how effective Baltimore can be on offense.
Defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry combined for 15 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2013. They'll both likely get their shots at testing Wagner.