Ravens at Packers: Keys to the Game
The Ravens come off of their bye week sitting at 4-5, with a chance at the postseason still in reach. However, this week’s game is almost a must-win. Falling to 4-6 would ultimately put the Ravens’ postseason dreams to rest. As the Ravens head to Lambeau Field to face off with the Green Bay Packers, where they have not won a single game in the franchise’s history, they will look to keep pace in the perfectly named wild card race. Following these keys to the game should allow them to do so.
Use Danny Woodhead Cautiously
Although it has not been confirmed, many analysts and reporters expect running back Danny Woodhead to return to action this week, after missing the last nine games with a hamstring injury. Woodhead already proved that he will be a valuable addition to this offense with his one and only drive this season, when he caught three balls for thirty-three yards. Woodhead will make an impact this week if he does play. Woodhead has shown that he is a tough cover for many linebackers, so he will provide a much needed weapon for Flacco and this offense. However, Danny should not be overused. Just because he is available does not mean he should be a workhorse coming out of the backfield. With the emergence of Alex Collins and the versatile Javorious Allen, Woodhead should be a third down back used specifically for short yardage situations, just until he gets back into live game shape. But even in his minimal play time, Woodhead will be a much needed weapon in the time when we most need it.
Terrify Brett Hundley
The Ravens’ pass rush must attack the young Green Bay quarterback, Brett Hundley. The Packers have three receivers in, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Devante Adams that can all make big time plays if their quarterback has the time. Baltimore can not allow Hundley to sit in the pocket and survey the field. Even though the Ravens’ secondary is as good as it gets in the league, if the pass rush does not force Hundley to throw the ball sooner than he wants, one of the those talented receivers will break free. After adding rookie pass rushers, Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser in this past years draft, it would be nice to see what they could do with extended playing time. Williams is coming off of a thigh injury and is finally healthy and Tyus Bowser has not been given consistent playing time this season. Adding those two guys, along with veteran Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon it could give the pass rush new life and make Hundley’s day miserable.
Balanced Pass-Rush Attack
The offense is bad. There is no denying that. But with Danny Woodhead returning, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace both fully healthy, and finally the offensive line will have a consistent starting five the Ravens should hopefully be able to out more points up on the board. Quarterback Joe Flacco said before the bye that he is tired of the dink and dunk offense. He wants to open up the field and throw some deep balls. Offensive coordinator Marty Morhninweg needs to listen to his quarterback. Now with the deep passing game there also needs to be a consistent rushing attack. Running back, Alex Collins, needs to ‘Irish jig’ his way through the Green Bay defense. Along with the shifty Danny Woodhead and brute Javorious Allen, the Ravens could have a three-headed monster coming out of the backfield.
If the Ravens want a chance at the Lombardi, they will need a huge win in a tough and unusual environment. Joe Flacco always seems to play his best ball when it counts the most. Will playoff Joe make an early appearance?