It’s that time of year again. Every game counts. Every game is a must win. No difference this week as the Ravens travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers in historic Lambeau Field. It is not going to be an easy game.
Aaron Rodgers is the third highest rated quarterback in the entire NFL, with only Drew Brees and Brett Favre ahead of him. Yes, that is correct. He has a better rating than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. He’s good. He’s damn good. He is an up and coming star in the NFL, and the Ravens have to try and stop him Monday night, in his house. And he has quite a few weapons to go to.
The pair of receivers that the Packers currently have is arguably among the most talented in the entire NFL. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings have combined this season for 100 catches and over 1,500 yards already, including eight touchdowns. These stats compete with some of the leagues’ best. Let’s take a quick look at some other big name receiving duos. Let’s start off with Wes Welker and Randy Moss, combining for 151 catches, 1878 yards, and 12 touchdowns. That’s pretty hard for any other duo to touch, especially when the Patriots throw it as much as they do. But let’s look at some other names: Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald with 131 receptions, 1491 yards, and 11 scores; Marques Colston and Devery Henderson with 82 receptions, 1445 yards, and nine touchdowns; and finally, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark (a tight end who acts like a receiver) with 153 catches, 1821 yards, and 14 touchdowns (so maybe they are the NFL’s best combo). Anyway, the point is, the Ravens have their work cut out for them, obviously. They are facing a top-notch quarterback with top-notch receivers. The only good news is that the Ravens have played the Patriots and the Colts, and had chances to win both of those games had a play or two gone their way at the end of the game. Needless to say, the defense is going to have to show up again, and get to Rodgers, who is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL with 44 sacks.
With all with being said about the passing game, the Ravnes also have to look to stop their running game led by Ryan Grant, who is well on pace for over 1000 yards this season. He is seventh in the NFL in rushing with 890 yards, behind elite running backs who were all picked in the first round of fantasy drafts earlier this season. Grant most likely wasn’t taken in the first round. Grant has also scored five touchdowns. And the Ravens, who used to be known for their stout running defense, are giving up 98 yards per game, and have allowed seven rushing touchdowns. The last time the Ravens were allowing this many yards a game was all the way back in 2002, when the Ravens finished 7-9.
With all that being said about the Ravens defense, the Ravens offense is going to have to show up as well, which means a healthy dose of Rice, Ray Rice. Even though the Packers defense has been playing somewhat well lately, it had been against the Lions and 49ers. The Packers also lost to the Buccaneers, so they aren’t necessarily flawless. Joe Flacco finally had a decent performance against a good defense in the Steelers, throwing for 289 yards and one touchdown. He is going to have to do at least that, maybe more, to keep up with the Packers offense. Rice is going to have to get the ball at least 20-25 times, whether by handing him the ball or throwing it to him, and Todd Heap and Kelley Washington are going to have to help Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, who are both coming off of impressive, seven reception games each.
I am really looking forward to this game Monday night, but it is going to be a tough one. I am going to be sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping that the Ravens can pull this one off. It is a must win. They know this. I heard Ray Lewis talk yesterday, and he said they went into the Steelers game as if it was a six game season. One down, five to go. I feel that they can win this, so my prediction this week is that they will edge out the Packers in a 30-24 contest, making a defensive stand at the end of the game that will send the city of Baltimore into an uproar as fans watch the game at their favorite local watering holes. I haven’t been too good on my last two predictions as I said that the Ravens would beat both the Bengals and the Colts, so let’s hope that this time I am correct.
I’ll be sitting, watching nervously with you Baltimore. Let’s not end this season yet.