Ravens will have hands full with A.J. Green

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
10:30
AM ET
ESPN Stats & Information
Roll over each category to see how top receivers Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson rate.

A.J. Green has been sensational for the Cincinnati Bengals in his rookie campaign. He has the second-most receptions of 30 or more yards (12) of any receiver in the NFL and ranks in the top 15 in yards (1,031), yards per catch (16.4), and yards per target (10).

Green has already broken Chris Collinsworth’s franchise rookie record for receiving yards and is only five catches shy of breaking his receptions record of 67. He's one of three receivers, along with Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, with at least 10 receptions of 30 or more yards on throws that traveled at least 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Let’s take a closer look at how Green matches up against the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals' opponent Sunday.

Green’s emergence as deep threat
When the ball is thrown 15 yards or deeper, Green is at his best. He’s recorded 647 yards receiving on only 19 receptions, good for a 34.1 yards per catch average (fourth in NFL among wide receivers with at least 30 such targets).

Green has caught 54.3 percent of passes on which he is targeted (fifth among wide receivers with 30 such targets) and has not dropped a single pass of 15 yards or more the entire season, scoring four touchdowns on passes of that length. His 8.7 targets per touchdown ranks ninth in the NFL.

On the surface, it seems that the Ravens defense would be able to contain Green and the potent Cincinnati passing game.

The Ravens have sported one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL this year. They rank as a top-five team in all traditional defensive statistics, including points per game (third, 16.7), yards per game (third, 285.7), and third down conversion rate (first, 30.8 percent).

They have also dominated opposing quarterbacks this season, holding them to a league-low Total QBR of 37.2.

The chart on the right in this section shows that the Ravens are vulnerable to passes thrown 15 yards or more. They rank second-worst in the league in Total QBR allowed on such attempts.

Ravens problems at cornerback
Since Week 10, rookie Jimmy Smith (55 percent) and Lardarius Webb (45 percent) have split duties as left cornerback (the spot that would take on Green) for the Ravens.

During that span, the Ravens have allowed three passing touchdowns when Smith was at cornerback, but none with Webb. They’ve surrendered a completion every 4.3 plays with Webb, one every 2.8 with Smith.

Whoever lines up at left corner on Sunday will have their hands full with Green, as he does most of his damage along the right sideline.

In his first year in the NFL, A.J. Green can already be counted amongst the league's elite vertical receivers.

On Sunday, the Bengals will look to exploit a surprisingly susceptible Baltimore pass defense with some deep throws as they try to lock up the final AFC wild card spot.

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