Sunday, October 13, 2013

Week 6: Packers vs. Ravens Preview

For the third time in the first five games of the 2013 NFL season the Green Bay Packers will play a championship-caliber team on the road. The team? The Baltimore Ravens, winners of the last Super Bowl. Who did they beat? The San Francisco 49ers, coincidentally the first of the teams the Packers faced on the road this season. And, coincidentally, the first of the two teams the Packers have lost to on the road this season.

Granted, the Ravens now aren't the Ravens they were then. (You follow that, right?) Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin are all gone from the squad. They are 3-2 overall, tied atop the AFC North with the Browns and Bengals after what generally is called a big win for them over Miami.

On offense the Ravens have, depending upon one's point of view, either an elite or a very good quarterback in Joe Flacco. Baltimore ponied up elite money for him after the Super Bowl win. The number of quality receivers he has to throw to this season, however, is not the same as last season. WR Torrey Smith is the go-to man this season. He has speed, size and can run great routes. The Ravens also have a good runner in Ray Rice, although his stats are down this season from what they have been in prior years. Still, he showed more of his old self in the win over the Fins last week. The Packers run and pass defense will have to be at least as good as it's been in its two wins in order for the Pack to notch the team's third victory of the season...and its first on the road.

(Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

It's not going to be easy for the Packers defense today with the loss of two starting linebackers, Clay Matthews and Brad Jones. Mike Neal -- who had arguably his best game as a Packer against the Lions -- and Nick Perry are both going to have to really step up today in replacing the two starters. If another injury hits the Packers' linebacking corps, they are down to very inexperienced players as backups; keep your fingers crossed that the injury bug stays away today, Packer fans.

The Packers offensive line and skill positions will also have to be on their "A" games. That means in big attitude. The Ravens still have one of the better defenses around despite it's personnel losses. OLB Terrell Suggs has recovered fully from a torn Achilles suffered 18 months ago. He's good. Very good. On the other side, OLB Elvis Dumervil brings speed. They can cause problems for both the rushing and passing games if allowed to get their games going.

Aaron Rodgers will need to be his usual sharp self. He got his mojo back after a down game in Cincinnati. The Packers receivers should be able to take advantage of an average secondary if the O-line gives Rodgers time to make his reads. That should be aided by the ongoing success of the Packers rejuvenated running game. That's going to do just enough to keep the Ravens from bringing an all-out pass rush every play.

The Prediction
The Packers haven't won on the road yet this season and the Ravens haven't lost at home yet this season. Streaks will continue or not. I'm going with the "not" group.

The Packers are favored by 3 points. The over-under is set at 49 points.

I'm calling this one 27-20 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

If you want the final video thoughts from on this game, just click here.