Niners-Ravens Matchup Could be One of Year’s Best

Two hot, dynamic teams will meet in Baltimore Sunday, a showcase for a young MVP candidate and a terrific front four hoping to stop him

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On Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens demolished the Los Angeles Rams, 45-6. One night earlier, the 49ers pummeled the Green Bay Packers, 37-8.

Now the stage is set for what promises to be one of the best matchups of this season, when the 10-1 49ers travel to Baltimore Sunday to take on the 9-2 Ravens.

It will be a young NFL MVP candidate, quarterback Lamar Jackson of the Ravens, against the 49ers’ dominating defensive front. It will be a matchup of two physical, balanced teams. And, it’s a meeting of historic proportions, according to ESPN Stats & Information, which noted Tuesday it will be the first meeting in NFL history between teams each coming off victories of 28 or more points.

The Ravens are on a roll, winning three straight games by 34 or more points – something no team ever has done in the NFL. Baltimore’s 184 positive-point differential through 11 games – 386 scored, 202 allowed – is the best through 11 games since 2009, when the Saints were at plus-186.

San Francisco, meanwhile, leads the NFL in total defense, allowing just 248 yards per game, and its 44 team sacks lead the league. The Niners’ ferocious pass rush dominated the Packers Sunday night, and it’s a true team effort, with Arik Armstead (10), Nick Bosa (8), Dee Ford (6.5) and DeForest Buckner (5.5) leading the charge.

As Doug Farrar of USA Today’s Touchdown Wire noted Tuesday, San Francisco is formidable, with its only loss coming in overtime to Seattle. But, the 49ers have been susceptible to mobile QBs, so Jackson and the Ravens could be a problem.

Wrote Farrar: “San Francisco’s combination of pass rush and secondary play is unparalleled in today’s NFL, and outside of Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, who’s put up two games with a passer rating over 100 against them, and (Seattle’s) Russell Wilson, who ran six times for 53 yards in Week 10, things get really interesting when you superimpose Jackson and Baltimore’s preposterous rushing offense into that equation.”

The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing, with an average of 210.5 yards per game, which is 64.9 yards more per game than the league’s No. 2 rushing offense – the 49ers.

Oddsmakers have made Baltimore an early four-point favorite. The game Sunday is set to kick off at 10 a.m. (Bay Area time).

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