About Last Week…
Let’s not spend too much time here lamenting the final score. The Ravens played a Jekyll & Hyde game on both sides of the ball in Cleveland, and came within two points of beating the Browns… in their house… a team that has been preparing for the Ravens for four weeks… and coming off a bye week.
Tyler Huntley had an admirable showing on offense, as did Rashod Bateman (who had a touchdown stolen from him), while defensively the Ravens found their first interception since October. Ending the game riding hot should at least give you a tinge of excitement heading into Sunday against the Packers, especially when you consider it was the first time the Ravens put up a pair of second-half touchdowns in a game since Week 9 versus Minnesota.
I know that ‘a loss is a loss’ but given the circumstances, most folks expected the loss, so maybe the sting is slightly less?
I know it seems like I’m just grasping at straws here, but I can tell you I walked away feeling a little bit better than I did coming into the game, and I expect that to carry over to this Sunday versus Green Bay.
This Week: Packers (-5.5) @ Ravens
It certainly feels weird to see the Ravens as 5 ½ point underdogs at home, but I get it: the Packers are hot and healthy right now, while the Ravens are limping out of 2021 with an offense that’s been mostly stifled this year compared to what we’ve become accustomed to in recent years.
That being said… can you really count this Ravens team out on Sunday? Turning to the opposing sideline, can you really be sure that the Packers are going to easily handle the Ravens?
We all know what the Packers offense is capable of when healthy, but with their O-Line woes right now, it can surely change the effectiveness (hits close to home, doesn’t it?). There’s also something to said about the opposing defenses faced: lest we forget, before putting up 45 on the Bears (24th in Points Allowed), 36 on the Rams (17th), and 31 on the Vikes (25th)? They put up just 17 against Seattle (5th in PA) and seven against the Chiefs (7th), while also staying south of that 30-point mark since Week 3 vs San Fran (20th) and Week 2 vs Detroit (29th).
Baltimore’s defense (10th in PA) should present a much more formidable challenge.
Clearly, the offense is not bulletproof in Green Bay, and with Aaron Rodgers ‘covid-toe’ and a shaky offensive line? I’d say it’s closer to… like a Kevlar vest that’s already taken fire?
That feels fair.
On the flipside, the Packers defense has started to revert just a bit in the same aforementioned three-game stretch, giving up a total of 92 points, and they’re just a single yard away from allowing 400+ yards of offense in three straight (399 to the Rams). Having also allowed 100+ rushing yards in eight out of thirteen games this season (with three others in the high 90’s), I think it’s safe to say there’s a clear path to victory for Baltimore in this game:
Run the ball… control the clock… keep Rodgers sidelined… but most importantly and equally as cliché?
The Ravens need to play disciplined and fundamentally sound in this game, because a single turnover, missed tackle, or blown coverage could be all it takes for Green Bay to takeover and never look back.
As much as I want to call for a Ravens win here… I can’t do that.
Simply put, I don’t trust this offense to play a perfect game, and that’s what’s needed to come out on top this Sunday. “Perfect” for me would entail no costly penalties (negating big plays with offensive holds has been a trend), no turnovers (Huntley cost the Ravens 10-14 points last Sunday with his two fumbles), no bad sacks (47 sacks allowed this season), and controlling the clock/tempo of the game.
I do expect the Ravens to keep the game close into the 4th quarter; however, a Rodgers-to-Davante Adams touchdown opens up a two-score lead late, and the Ravens simply cannot recover.
Since the QB situation is undecided, let’s just say “QB1” on Sunday throws a touchdown pass and rushes for another, while also turning the ball over twice, and in turn, putting Green Bay in scoring position at least once. Bateman will be the recipient of the lone passing touchdown, while Mark Andrews remains the targets/receptions/yards leader in this game. The OL amasses *six* penalties in this game.
Defensively, I think the Ravens manage to sack Rodgers three times (Justin Houston, Odafe Oweh, Patrick Queen), and Chris Westry gets his first interception… but it’s all for naught, as the Ravens continue to tumble to 8-6.
Packers 30 Ravens 20
Best of the Rest
Saturday football is back!! And honestly, probably the best slate of the weekend too.
Raiders (1-) @ Browns. 4:30 pm
Pats @ Colts (-2.5). 8:15 pm
As for Sunday, with the Ravens hosting the Packers at 4:25pm I was hoping for a solid 1pm time slot… instead we get five out of six games with a .500+ team facing a sub .500 team. So unless you want to watch the Cards and Lions, or Cowboys and Giants, or maybe the Panthers and Bills? You’ll settle for the only good matchup.
Titans @ Steelers (EVEN). 1 pm
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much better in the afternoon and prime time. You could always check in on the two-win Texans versus the two-win Jags, or maybe the Rams taking on Russell Wilson’s current-but-not-future-team in the Seahawks. I’ve got one decent non-Ravens matchup after 1 pm.
Bengals @ Broncos (-2.5)
That’s pretty much it. A weak overall week for matchups.
Here’s to hoping my prediction is (once again) laughably wrong, and if not… a Raiders/Titans/Broncos winning trifecta to keep the Ravens atop the AFC North!