Preview: Ravens Battle NFC Leading Green Bay Packers
The Ravens come into Sunday’s matchup on a two game losing streak. After a tough loss last Sunday at the hand of the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens look to rebound against the current number one seed in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay is coming off a 45-30 win over the Chicago Bears and currently sit at an NFL best 10-3.
MVP front runner Aaron Rodgers holds a career 2-1 record against the Ravens and has thrown four touchdowns, while also throwing four interceptions in those three games. Rodgers quarterback rating versus the Ravens is his third lowest against any team. The Ravens and Packers don’t see each other very often and the Ravens will look to take advantage of that unfamiliarity in an effort to keep pace in the crowded AFC playoff race.
Since going down last Sunday against the Browns, the talk all week has been about the health of Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson who suffered a sprained ankle did not practice all week and head coach John Harbaugh has reiterated that Jackson has the possibility to play. Its a tough blow for the Ravens who have been riddled with injuries to key players all year. While Jackson’s injury isn’t expected to sideline him long its a tough position to be in without your quarterback down the stretch as games become more meaningful. If Jackson is unable to go, Tyler Huntley is in line to make his second career NFL start.
The Ravens will be without guard Ben Powers as well as tackle Patrick Mekari who is still dealing with a hand injury. The Ravens however are hoping to get back fullback Patrick Ricard who missed last Sunday with a back/knee injury and is currently listed as questionable. Receiver Marquise Brown is also listed as questionable with an illness and did not practice on Thursday. Safety Chuck Clark, cornerback Christ Westry, and receiver Sammy Watkins were added to the reserve Covid list and will miss Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers is currently playing at an MVP level having thrown for over 3,000 yards while adding 27 touchdowns, and a NFL low four interceptions. Rodgers in his last three games has thrown 10 touchdowns while also throwing for over 300 yards in each of those contests. With his ability to read defenses and make big time throws defending, Rodgers will be the toughest matchup for the Ravens this season.
The Ravens pass rush must attack Rodgers and get sacks forcing Green Bay into long down and distances if they hope to slow down an offense that averages 361 yards per game. A thin Ravens secondary will need help from its own front seven if they hope to keep Sunday’s matchup close.
With Lamar Jackson being a true game-time decision, the uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into such an important late season game would be a problem for most teams around the league. But for the Ravens the recent play of backup quarterback Tyler Huntley gives the Ravens some hope in their ability to win if Jackson out. Huntley’s skill set is identical to that of Jackson which allows the Ravens offense to continue to run as scheduled with little changes needing to be made. But most importantly no moment seems to be to big for the second year player, as seen in Huntley’s performance in bringing the Ravens back against the Browns last Sunday.
The dynamic of Sunday’s game could be shifted based on the health status of Jackson. A major key for the Ravens will be slowing down Aaron Rodgers and his go to target, receiver Davante Adams. The Rodgers to Adams connection will be a tough ask of a depleted Ravens secondary. The Ravens will need to pressure Rodgers early and often if they hope to slow down Rodgers and the Packers offense. All the injuries suffered by the Ravens at key spots as well as the greatness of Rodgers will just be too much for the Ravens too overcome. While the Ravens keep is close for much of the game, the Packers will pull away late leaving Baltimore with a 31-20 win.
Line: Green Bay -6.5
All-Time Record: Green Bay leads series 4-2
Last Meeting: 11/19/17 Baltimore 23-0