You look at this game and then you look at the Ravens’ remaining schedule and you see why this Monday Night game against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field is so important to the Ravens’ playoff hopes. The Ravens are currently 6-5 and very much in the playoff race. We can assume that the Ravens are not going to beat out the Bengals and win the division. With that in mind, we turn to the possibility of a wildcard. If the season ended today, the wild card teams would be the Denver Broncos (7-4) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) followed by our Ravens and our rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) just missing the cut. With a race as close as this, a loss can really hurt, especially since they will still have to play the Steelers again in week 16. A win against the Pack could give the Ravens’ the confidence they need to win out and make a run in the playoffs (keep your fingers crossed). With the obvious importance of this game outlined, I can now delve into the game itself.
Ravens @ Packers on Monday Night Football
The Ravens will face a strong NFC opponent in the Green Bay Packers who are dealing with a wild card race of their own in the NFC and a loss for them could be just as detrimental as one for our beloved Ravens. While Green Bay looks for their 4th win in a row dating back to their win in week 10 in Dallas against the Cowboys, Baltimore will be attempting to win back to back for the first time since weeks 2 and 3. Both teams need a win and will do just about anything to get it making this game a very anticipated one even for those who live outside of Baltimore and Green Bay.
The Packer’s Strengths
1. The Packers are very adept at taking the ball away and not giving it back. They lead the league in turnover differential, +17. Led by the ballhawk cornerback Charles Woodson (7 INTs) and rookie standout linebacker Clay Matthews (5.0 sacks) the Packers’ D is expected to fluster Flacco who has thrown only 8 interceptions thus far this year.
2. They are not afraid to go deep. Aaron Rodgers has failed to complete a pass of over 50 yards in a game only for times this year. Of those four, two have been for over 40 yards. Another interesting fact, this one is beside the point, is that Aaron Rodgers leads the league among quarterbacks with 247 yards rushing.
3. Not giving up yardage. This is an obvious one. The Packers defense has remained strong this year and is the best in the NFL at holding opponents from gaining much yardage. Opponents are only averaging 281.5 yards per game.
1. The big one is their inability to protect their quarterback. Rodgers has been downed behind the line of scrimmage more than any other quarterback this year, 44 times. Hitting the turf that many times has left him with nagging injuries throughout the year. This week, his ribs are bothering him, but don’t get your hopes up, he is playing.
2. The Packers lead the league in penalties with 87. However, their penalties only add up to 730 yards where our 78 add up to 733 yards, 1st and 2nd in the league. Gee, I think there might be some yellow flying around on Monday Night, besides the Packers in their gold helmets of course.
3. Long range kicking. Mason Crosby, the Packers place kicker has missed 6 field goals this year, all from beyond 40 yards. So, if the game is coming down to the wire with only a little time left, I want the Pack to have to kick for the win and maybe just maybe Crosby will pull a ‘Hauschka’.
The Packers are a good team, better than their record suggests. Statistically, they are a very good team, but their special teams are sub par and they commit a lot of costly drive killing mistakes such as penalties and sacks. The Ravens, however, are not very disciplined either. This game will be close, but the Packers have the upper hand thanks to a vicious defense and a efficient offensive attack.