PFF Preview: Panthers @ Ravens, Week 4
After a 37-19 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Carolina Panthers (2-1) are set to battle another tough AFC North opponent in what could be considered Steve Smith’s “revenge” game, as they head to Charm City to take on the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) who have now reeled off two consecutive wins.
As Dennis Pitta has ended up on the IR for the second consecutive season, Steve Smith Sr.’s production looks to increase, not that it has been absent. Smith leads the Ravens in targets (32), receptions (18), and receiving yards (290) so far.
Clearly Flacco’s favorite and most productive target, Smith Sr. (+1.7) is the only Raven to hoist a ‘positive’ green grade in the pass category. Flacco has quickly learned he can trust the 14-year veteran, tallying a quarterback rating of 97.1 when throwing his direction, plus connecting three times in the deep passing game (20+ yards). No other Raven’s wide receiver or tight end has a reception over 20+ yards.
All that being said, who’s going to be responsible for stopping Smith Sr. on Sunday?
Antonio Cason (189) and Melvin White (183) have seen the most snaps of all the corner backs on the roster. Neither Cason nor White has been exceptional thus far, but White (-0.1) has faired a lot better than Cason (-2.4), who has earned the worst pass coverage grade on the team.
White, who has been targeted 16 times, has limited opposing quarterbacks to a rating of 55.7, yet he has still allowed 56.3% of balls to be completed against him. On the other hand, opposing quarterbacks have had a field day against Cason. Cason has been targeted 21 times, allowing an opposing quarterback rating of 94.4 and a staggering completion percentage of 85.0%.
Neither Cason nor White may be able to single handedly stop Smith Sr. in Week 4, but White seems like the better option.
Here are three more notable numbers for each side:
DeAngelo Williams – The Panthers’ highest-rated running back (+1.8) and also leads the team with an average of 5.4 yards per carry. However, Williams has only carried the ball 14 times due to injury.
Kelvin Benjamin – Has seen the most snaps (173) and targets (27) of any wide receiver on the roster as a rookie. He has also been targeted seven times in the deep passing game (20+ yards), tied for sixth in the league.
Kawann Short – Second-round pick in 2013, Short (+9.3) has continued to impress as he has earned the second-highest overall grade of all defensive tackles.
James Hurst – Slated to start at left tackle for an injured Eugene Monroe (knee surgery). Yet to play a single regular season snap, the rookie played 180 snaps in the preseason, grading out at (-3.8).
Kelechi Osemele – Has apparently recovered well from the back surgery he underwent in November to repair a herniated disk. With an overall grade of +8.1, he is the top overall guard in the league and has a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 99.4.
Terrell Suggs – Yet to record a sack, Suggs (+10.2) still ranks second among both 4-3 and 3-4 outside linebackers.
Recently at PFF