5 Key Matchups Green Bay Packers Need To Win vs. Baltimore Ravens
Packers vs. Ravens: 5 Keys To Watch For
Week 6 in the NFL is right around the corner and there are several matchups that people will be watching. One game in particular that is intriguing to many will take place in Maryland as the Green Bay Packers travel to take on the Baltimore Ravens.
The Packers come into the game following an impressive home win against their divisional rivals Detroit Lions which got them back to the .500 win mark at 2-2. The defending champion Ravens also are coming off of an impressive win on the road against the Miami Dolphins that pushed the Ravens to 3-2.
Both the Packers and Ravens have a different feel about them this season, but are still stacked with veterans across their respective rosters. The Packers lost their leader on defense in Charles Woodson during the offseason while the Ravens lost leaders on their defense including Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger and Ed Reed.
This season, both teams got off to slow starts and had a few analysts questioning many things. However, it seems the Packers and Ravens have recovered.
Statistically, the Ravens are still one of the best defenses in the league. They currently rank 14th overall in total defense and are fifth overall against the run. The Packers' offense on the other hand, known for being explosive, has yet to disappoint. They rank third in the league in yards per game and are also third in the league in points per game. It certainly looks to be a great matchup.
Many fans will be looking for a shootout between Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers, both of whom are Super Bowl MVPs. It will be a great matchup but ironically, it is not in my top five matchups for the game. Here are the five key matchups when the Packers take on the Ravens.
5. Nick Perry vs. Ravens' O-Line
With the unfortunate news that linebacker Clay Matthews will be out for at least a month due to a broken thumb, second-year man Nick Perry will have to fill in and try to replace a Pro Bowler in Matthews that strikes fear in opposing quarterbacks.
Last week, Perry stepped up and produced. He recorded two sacks and also had 12 tackles. His production will need to be at that same level, and he will need to do so against a Ravens offensive line that is very strong, big and physical.
However, so far this season, the Ravens have struggled to protect Flacco. They have allowed 14 sacks along with 31 quarterback knockdowns.
Expect Perry to pin his ears back and go after any lineman he lines up against this week as he tries to prove to the Packers he can be exactly what they wanted him to be when he was drafted in the first round in the 2012 draft.
4. David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay vs. Terrell Suggs
One of the biggest matchups on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers will be how the offensive line handles All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs.
So far this season, Suggs has stepped up and proved to everyone that even if the Ravens lost Lewis and Kruger, he can still be productive. A lot of Suggs’ production this season has been because he lines up across from newly-acquired Elvis Dumervil. Regardless to why he may be productive, Suggs’ numbers don’t lie. He has recorded seven sacks this season, three of which came last week against the Dolphins.
Suggs will be priority no. 1 for the Packers' offensive line and will certainly be targeted by rookie David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay. Bakhtiari defends Rodgers’ blind side while Barclay protects the right side. Both Bakhtiari and Barclay will see Suggs. He is used in many different looks for the Ravens and is constantly moving.
Through four games for the Packers, the offensive line has held up. They have allowed 11 sacks, which ranks them in a tie for fourth in the league in protection.
The protection will have to be above par for the entire line, but especially Bakhtiari and Barclay as they try to contain T-Sizzle.
3. Randall Cobb vs. Jimmy Smith
Another very interesting matchup to watch on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers is speed receiver Randall Cobb against cornerback Jimmy Smith. Assuming that Lardarius Webb (Ravens' no. 1 corner) takes on the assignment of Jordy Nelson, Smith will have to try and defend Cobb, who is hard to jam on the line and can get by anyone with his speed.
Cobb has done a great job as expected for the Packers this season and is explosive out of the slot position. He has 25 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 78 yards rushing.
Smith this year has 20 tackles to go along with two forced fumbles, but has not yet recorded an interception. He is a very physical cornerback who will try to jam receivers and force them out of their games. Many will recall that Smith was the man who defended the final pass of last year’s Super Bowl that led to the Ravens raising the Lombardi Trophy.
With Nelson and Webb battling all day, expect a very intriguing matchup to occur when Cobb tries to elude Smith.
2. Jermichael Finley vs. Daryl Smith
A third matchup on the offensive side to watch for the Packers is the battle between tight end Jermichael Finley and veteran Mike linebacker Daryl Smith.
Finley is coming off a game against the Lions where he only had six catches for 32 yards. However, Finley has been productive leading up to that game. He has a total of 17 receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns. It is a great start for Finley, who is trying to rebound from a drop-filled 2012 season that had many people questioning if he can ever get back to his old form from his breakout year in 2009.
Smith also has had a great start to his season. The 10th-year man from Georgia Tech signed with the Ravens this offseason and his impact has been felt. He has 43 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions to his name. Smith is trying to replace Lewis and so far, he has done a fantastic job. He will have to show his coverage skills this week along with his pass rush abilities.
Expect a great clash between Finley and Smith -- a big, physical tight end against a veteran, crafty linebacker. It should be an awesome thing to see!
1. A.J. Hawk vs. Ray Rice
The no. 1 matchup to watch for this week when the Packers take on the Ravens is linebacker A.J. Hawk against Ray Rice. It is a matchup the Packers must win and it will put a lot of pressure on Hawk to make sure he can break down and tackle Rice.
Hawk, a veteran linebacker, has done a nice job in the middle of the Packers' 3-4 defense. He has very rarely missed any tackles this year and has also put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. His one downside so far however has been in coverage. This is where Rice will be the challenge.
In five games this season for the Ravens, Rice has had 17 catches for 72 yards and will test Hawk. On the ground this season, Rice has 57 carries for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Hawk will have to make sure he can elude blockers, get to Rice and bring him down.
This matchup will be big for the Packers. Their defense must be able to turn the Ravens into a one-dimensional type of offense. If they can make Flacco have to beat them with his arm, it will be a much easier day for the defense. Expect Hawk to be a hawk this week and have his eyes on Rice the entire day.