The Baltimore Ravens will try to keep themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt on Sunday, when they are also looking for their first-ever win at Lambeau Field. Predictions on what we’ll see from the RSR staff here…
The Ravens have 9 games under their collective belt and it seems like 90 in some ways, none in other ways. In other words, the season already feels so long on one hand and on the other, it seemingly hasn’t started.
You get me?
That said, as wretched and disappointing as this season has been so far, the Ravens, believe it or not, could control their own destiny with a little help from the great Nathan Peterman, the Bills new rookie signal caller. He’ll fail in his first career start in San Diego.
This week, the Ravens will take a major step towards realizing their postseason aspirations. In the weeks ahead, the story may have a different ending. But this week, things bode well.
— Joe Flacco throws for 300+ yards with 2 TD’s, 0 INT’s and a passer rating of 123.0.
— The Ravens will convert 50% of their third-down attempts and they’ll be 2 of 3 on red zone trips.
— The Ravens will sack Hundley four times.
— The Bills, Raiders and Dolphins all lose as the Ravens pull into a tie for the 6th playoff spot.
— Call the phone casino and put some Benjamins on this: Ravens 24, Packers 17
— A win against the Packers would be a huge boost for the Ravens’ playoff hopes. Baltimore is 7-2 after bye weeks under John Harbaugh. The Ravens should be healthier, refocused and ready to play from the opening whistle.
— The Ravens caught a huge break by not having to face Aaron Rodgers, who is out with a fractured right collarbone. Instead, Brett Hundley will get the start for the Packers. Hundley led Green Bay to a 23-16 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Ravens have already struggled against several backup quarterbacks this season. Still, Baltimore will force Hundley to beat them and he will struggle against its secondary, which leads the NFL with 13 interceptions.
— The Ravens run defense will get back to its roots and will hold the Packers to fewer than 100 yards on the ground. Green Bay has the league’s 22nd-ranked running attack. After some struggles, Baltimore’s D has risen to No. 5 in the league for total defense.
— Quarterback Joe Flacco talked all week about opening the offense. The Ravens, however, will play conservatively, especially with an early lead. If Danny Woodhead is available, he will be a key part of the offense, catching the ball out of the backfield.
— The Ravens gave Alex Collins a boost of confidence when they announced that he will remain the featured running back, regardless of who is back in the lineup. Collins will be able to find some room to run against the Packers’ 17th-ranked run defense. He will also find the end zone for the first time this season.
— This could be the healthiest Ravens team since training camp. The Packers, meanwhile, are decimated with injuries. John Harbaugh is not concerned about style points. He’s prepared to win a slugfest.
It will be cold in Green Bay this weekend and that could be a good thing for the Ravens. It might give them a chance to pound the ball with the run, and if Danny Woodhead is good to go, to use him on short passes over the middle. I think the Defense gives the Packers offense fits throughout the day, forcing two turnovers with one of them turning into 6 points.
Justin Tucker doesn’t let the cold weather affect him and boots 4 field goals as the Ravens win 26-13.
The Ravens are coming off of a bye, they’re as healthy as they’ve been all season, and this in many ways is a must win game to keep them in the thick of it for the sixth and final playoff spot. Combine all that with the fact that they’re facing another backup quarterback and this, on paper, looks like a game the Ravens should win. But when you get a gauge of the pulse of this team, particularly their franchise quarterback, it’s a team that continues to lack a sense of urgency and displays a baffling level of disinterest.
When asked this past week about how he spent his bye week Joe Flacco replied with, “when we didn’t have to be here, I wasn’t here.” Players and coaches have lives outside of football and there’s nothing wrong with stepping away during the bye week, but Flacco continues to send a vibe of careless arrogance. It’s fine for him to step away for a few days but it’s completely unnecessary for him to communicate his lack of interest to the fans and media.
That “laid back” mentality carries over to Sunday as the Ravens enter one of the most hostile environments in the NFL. They’re unable to match the intensity of the Packers in the confines of Lambeau field and what ensues is another ugly offensive output. Flacco throws two picks including one deep in his own territory and the Ravens lose a low scoring game.
Repeat after me…This is NOT a must win. In fact, if the Ravens make it to 8-8 with 3 NFC losses (GB would be the 3rd), they will sew up all the required tiebreakers for the #6 seed vs. Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Denver, Houston, NYJ, and the LA Chargers. That said, a win here could help build the team’s identity for the stretch drive and keep slim division hopes alive.
For many reasons, the Ravens should have an advantage versus the Packers:
–They are coming off a bye when the league has played .553 ball since 2003 and they have won 12 of their last 15
–The Ravens got a much needed rest for a long list of injured players
— They have had an opportunity to make specific adjustments to the game plan for the Packers similar to changes the Titans made off the bye against the Ravens (CB Adoree’ Jackson’s run being an obvious one)
— Danny Woodhead may return to boost the anemic yards per touch for every Ravens offensive player accept Collins
— Windy weather should be a factor, which heavily favors the Ravens, because Flacco’s arm has made him “wind resistant” over his career and the Ravens have big advantages on both sides of the ball in the run game
–Ball security will be paramount and the Ravens have the defensive team to apply more turnover pressure
There has been only 1 lead change in a Ravens game this season (Ravens lead 3-0 at Minnesota before losing), but otherwise the team to score first has won and never trailed. That trend will continue this week in a game the Ravens will score in the first half and extend as the game progresses with a stout defensive effort.
Ravens 23 Packers 9
If the Ravens have any hope of salvaging their season, it starts Sunday in Green Bay where the Packers will be without their starting QB and top two RBs. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have always excelled coming off the bye week and that coupled with the above, makes this a very winnable game for the Ravens even on the road.
With the weather being a factor in Green Bay, the offense will not open up quite like Joe Flacco wanted it too. But that doesn’t mean the Ravens won’t score points!
— Flacco will finish the day with 225 yards passing and TD passes to Jeremy Maclin and the returning Danny Woodhead.
— With the weather playing a factor, Alex Collins will pace the Ravens and find the end zone for the first time this year.
— Justin Tucker will be perfect on his two FG and three extra points.
— The defense will wreak havoc on Hundley and make WR Jordy Nelson and DaVante Adams non-factors. The defense finishes the game with four sacks and three INT.
Ravens 27 Packers 6
Lotta purple kool aid drinking going on above me here! It’s funny what two weeks without seeing this inept offense can do to fan perceptions, huh? We’ve heard since the Titans game that the Ravens are getting healthy, that they’re “fixing” the offense, that the schedule sets up nicely for them to make a legit playoff push in the mediocre AFC, etc.
All that said, the Ravens couldn’t have designed a better opponent themselves – a rookie backup quarterback, down-the-depth chart running backs, the first team all year that’s listed more guys on the injury report than Baltimore has (I think; don’t quote me)…
There really is no excuse to not win this game. And I think they will…but it’ll be U-G-L-Y.
Many Ravens fans have confidence this week versus the Packers. After all, they’re coming off a bye, the team is getting healthier, and the Packers are dealing with some key injuries including Aaron Rodgers, Brian Bulaga, Aaron Jones, & Ty Montgomery.
Easy W! Right?!
The Ravens are 2-2 versus backup signal callers this season, with wins versus Miami & Oakland, losses to Chicago & Minnesota.
They are 0-4 versus teams with winning records (Green Bay is 5-4).
Also, Baltimore is 2-3 on the road.
Ultimately there’s nothing that leads me down a path of confidence this weekend other than the nagging thought of “there’s no way they can lose this game, can they?!”
But they’ll take the L in a close game decided by field goals, as 2 inept offenses spend the day sputtering like a car trying to start in the frigid Green Bay temps…
4-6 and a top 10 pick, here we come!