The Baltimore Ravens will be taking on the NFC North this season, which means they will be up against some of the best players in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers behind center, who is thought by many to be the best quarterback with air in his lungs. The Chicago Bears boast some of the best defensive players around, including Charles Tilliman, Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs. The Detroit Lions have Clavin Johnson, who just broke Jerry Rice‘s record for receiving yards in a single season. And Adrian Peterson, who plays for the Minnesota Vikings, finished nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson‘s single-season record for rushing yards.
The Ravens play the Packers first. Luckily, though, it’s a home game. M&T Bank Stadium is a notoriously difficult place to play. Despite losing two home games last season to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos, the Ravens rarely lose to visitors. Baltimore’s retooled defense will have their work cut out for them against Green Bay’s potent aerial assault, but they should be up to the task. The potent pass rush will keep Rodgers on his toes, while the new and improved secondary stick to the receiving corps. The home field advantage will benefit the young offense as they work around the Packers’ defense.
Next up is the Bears. It’s tough to guess what the Ravens will be walking into when they go to Chicago in November. New head coach Marc Trestman is an offensive-minded coach who is looking to harness the talent Jay Cutler and co. have flashed over the past few years. Dean Pees might want to bum some Advil off of Jim Caldwell, who will be working overtime to find the holes in Mel Tucker‘s takeaway-happy defense. This one could go either way.
The Ravens open December against the Vikings, who will be sailing into Baltimore with new weapons in their arsenal, both offensive and defensive. Shariff Floyd and Xavier Rhodes, two of Minnesota’s three first-round picks, will test Joe Flacco and his receivers, while Cordarrelle Paterson works opposite ex-Packer Greg Jennings against Baltimore’s secondary. Oh, and Adrian Peterson will Adrian Peterson some Adrian Peterson on the Ravens’ new run defense. (By the way, did I mention Adrian Peterson?) If they can limit him to just 100 yards, they’ll have a shot at winning.
A week later, the Ravens travel to the Motor City to take on the Lions, who will be looking to bounce back from an inexplicably bad season. The effectiveness of Reggie Bush‘s addition to Detroit’s one-dimensional passing attack will be fully exposed by the time Pees goes to work, who will already have to account for a handful of talented receivers. It will be interesting to see how the new secondary matches up against Megatron, as well as who sacks Matthew Stafford the most. There will be some new faces on the Lions’ defense that will make a blown fourth-quarter lead unlikely, so Joe Flacco and the offense will have to stay sharp for all sixty minutes.