coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 10/07/2013 04:20 PM in NFL

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens: Preview and Pick

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens: Preview and Pick
The Baltimore Ravens are defending Super Bowl champions, but they have had a rough go of things to start the season. Between changes on both sides of the ball and injuries, the Ravens are struggling at times. This weekend they host the high octane Green Bay Packers fresh off a win over the Detroit Lions.

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Packers listed as (-3.5) point favorites which shows that the oddsmakers completely overlooked the game that Baltimore played in Miami. The betting public is also looking past the Ravens as over 70 percent of the early money is coming in on the Ravens. Despite the money influx, the line is actually moving in favor of the Ravens and can now be found at (-3) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

The Ravens got back to running the rock to win ballgames. Ray Rice had 102 total yards on 33 touches. In Rice's career, the Ravens are 23-3 when Rice has at least 25 touches and 30-24 when he is active and does not. Baltimore has won 20 straight games when Rice has at least 25 touches. Meanwhile the Packers won big over the Lions, a team that they have owned over the years.

This game fits a system play that has done well this year. Bet on a home underdog who is off an outright win as a road underdog. This cashed last week with the Arizona Cardinals over the Carolina Panthers. This could make the Ravens a sweet home dog to watch against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Getting the Ravens as a home dog is a very rare thing and it could pay off big for football betting fans, willing to fade the Packers on the road and out of conference.

The latest sports betting football trends for this game reveal that the home team has the better trends. Baltimore is 20-2 straight up in its last 22 games at home, 6-2-1 straight up in its last 9 games, but 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 5 games when playing Green Bay. Something has to give with the total as the total has gone over in 4 of Green Bay's last 5 games on the road, but the total has gone under in 4 of Baltimore's last 5 games at home.

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens Pick

With plenty of time to go before kickoff of this week, I will wait to announce my pick when we get closer to game day. Check back the day of the event for my pick on this great game.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/08/2013 01:58 PM

Packers coach Mike McCarthy was vague yesterday when asked about linebacker Clay Matthews‘ thumb injury, saying he was hopeful it wouldn’t be season-ending.

It will, however, knock him out for several games. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Matthews had surgery yesterday to repair a broken thumb, and will be out at least a month.

That will force Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to make some major adjustments on defense, without his best pass-rusher.

Matthews had three sacks and two forced fumbles in four games, and they’re going to have to scheme their way into that kind of production from the rest of the position.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/08/2013 02:04 PM

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had a season-high 102 total yards in Sunday's 26-23 win at Miami. While this is an encouraging sign, it's too early to say Rice is back to his Pro Bowl form.

The biggest difference between Rice this year and previous ones has been his ability to make defenders miss and break big plays. The Ravens need Rice to be the explosive playmaker they've come to expect, especially with the team's inexperience at the offensive skill positions. But, instead of making tacklers look silly like he did on that fourth down-and-29 in San Diego, he's typically going down after the first hit.

Rice has only broken two tackles this season, the fewest for any running back with over 50 carries, according to Pro Football Focus. In comparison, Reggie Bush has caused 16 missed tackles on just 11 more rush attempts. Even Ravens backup Bernard Pierce has broken 10 tackles this season.

Rice's 1.6 average yards after contact is only better than four starting running backs this season (Daryl Richardson, Willis McGahee, Lamar Miller and Chris Johnson). In each of his previous four seasons as the Ravens' featured back, Rice averaged 2.3 yards or more after contact.

This is why Rice has been unable to produce big plays. He's touched the ball 74 times, and his longest run has been 14 yards. His average yards per carry is 2.9, and his average yards per catch is 4.2. Last season, Rice had five 20-yard runs and six catches over 20 yards.

There were flashes of the old Rice in Miami, and it usually occurred around the goal line. On his first touchdown, he powered his way in between the tackles for a 2-yard score. On his second one, Rice saw the Dolphins' defense crashing inside and he made a sudden cut to the outside, which allowed him to walk in for the 3-yard touchdown.

After that first touchdown, Rice and coach John Harbaugh shared a laugh on the sideline.

"I was telling him, just being honest, you can never take away the value of a 3-yard run," Rice said. "That’s sometimes what we had to get and the value of it was you know what, it was what they were giving us. But to be able to let our offensive linemen line up and try to get after a few people, that felt pretty good. You know what, Jim (Caldwell, offensive coordinator) didn’t let his foot off the pedal. No matter how it looked, we were going to run the ball. That’s a good feeling.”

The main problem of the Ravens' running game, which ranks 27th in the NFL, has been the poor play of the offensive line. Baltimore's running backs are getting hit too many times behind the line and there have been no consistent holes. The lack of clear running lanes has led Rice and Pierce to slow up when approaching the line instead of accelerating through it.

Another factor has been Rice's hip injury. He got hurt in the fourth quarter of Week 2 and sat out the following week. But Rice wasn't producing long runs before the injury and he isn't using the injury as an excuse.

“It just felt good to have no setbacks with the injury I was coming off of," Rice said after the Dolphins game.

As I wrote Monday, it's a proven winning formula to get the ball in the hands of Rice. The Ravens are 23-3 when Rice has at least 25 touches, winning the last 20 times this has happened. But it just won't seem like old times until the old (and explosive) Rice returns.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/09/2013 10:58 PM

The Green Bay Packers will start two backup linebackers on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

With all the focus on the loss of starting outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who underwent surgery Monday on his broken right thumb and will miss “multiple weeks,” according to coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers also were forced to deal with another hamstring injury to starting inside linebacker Brad Jones.

The Packers ruled out Jones for Sunday’s game. Third-year pro Jamari Lattimore, a college defensive end who made the Packers as an undrafted free agent and outside linebacker, will make his first career start. He and Jones both moved from outside linebacker to the inside position before the 2012 season.

Lattimore was actually third on the depth chart last week but played 16 snaps in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions after Jones went down and his replacement, Robert Francois, sustained a season-ending torn Achilles tendon.

Jones, who was slowed by a hamstring injury during training camp, pulled the hamstring in his other leg against the Lions.

“I have no reason to believe it’s going to be very long based on the discussions [Tuesday] with our medical staff,” McCarthy said. “He will not be available this week, and hopefully we feel better about it next week.”

The Packers had only three outside linebackers available for Wednesday’s practice. In addition to Matthews, they also were without Andy Mulumba (ankle), who played 17 snaps against the Lions. Mike Neal and Nick Perry will start at the two outside spots against the Ravens.

Cornerback Casey Hayward, who appeared close to returning last week from a hamstring injury that has kept him out all season, may try to practice on Thursday, McCarthy said.

“He’s getting better; a little sore after what he went through last week,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see where he is tomorrow. This time last week, he was able to do some individual work on Thursday. So that's the hope.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/09/2013 10:59 PM

•As expected, the Ravens re-signed wide receiver Brandon Stokley three days after cutting him and released tight end Billy Bajema, according to the team's official website. Stokley wasn't going to play last Sunday because of a groin injury, and this move essentially gives the Ravens a 54-man roster because no one is expected to pick up Bajema. This is the third time that Bajema has been cut by the Ravens this season. Stokley has nine receptions for 79 yards in his first three games.

•Asked if the offense lacks intensity, The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston wrote: "It is hard to have intensity when the running backs are struggling to get to the line of scrimmage and the wide receivers drop more balls than they catch. As for the predictable part, the coaching staff needs to help quarterback Joe Flacco out. The long developing, deep routes need to be cut in half." What hurts the Ravens is the inability to run the ball consistently. A lot of that goes back to having the confidence and the attitude to push defenses around.

•Defensive coordinator Dean Pees talked about the importance of winning first down after the Ravens struggled in that area in Buffalo. The Press Box pointed out that the Ravens didn't have that same problem last Sunday in Miami. Seven of the Dolphins' 11 running plays came on first down, and those seven runs gained only 31 yards.

•Rookie fullback Kyle Jusczcyk played two offensive snaps and had his first NFL pass thrown his way in Miami (he didn't catch it). “We’d like to see more with him,” coach John Harbaugh said, via the team's official website. “I think he’s coming on. [He’s a] talented guy, and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can develop him even more.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/10/2013 01:46 PM

A collection of what other media outlets are saying as the Ravens prepare for Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium against the Green Bay Packers.

* The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel previews the game, including five things to watch and a position-by-position breakdown of the two teams.

Even with a 3-2 record, the defending Super Bowl champions are still an elite AFC team. The Ravens have not missed the playoffs under John Harbaugh, and they are supposed to be vulnerable this season without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. However, they recorded a big victory in Miami, and it was accomplished the old-fashioned way — with running back Ray Rice, not quarterback Joe Flacco, leading the way. The defense, even without Lewis and Reed, is still a force. Against Miami, it produced six sacks, including three in the fourth quarter by Terrell Suggs, and allowed just three field goals and one touchdown.

* The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn shares his thoughts on the Ravens.

Baltimore and Green Bay, two of the past three Super Bowl champions, will be meeting Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Packers (2-2) are favored to beat the Ravens (3-2) by three points, a spread that made little sense to a veteran personnel man.

"No way," the scout said Tuesday. "Green Bay's not playing good enough. This is going to be tough for Green Bay. You wanted to play them earlier. The Packers are hitting them at the wrong time."

*'s Jamison Hensley takes a closer look at Ravens running back Ray Rice and his failure to make defenders miss so far this season.

Rice has only broken two tackles this season, the fewest for any running back with over 50 carries, according to Pro Football Focus. In comparison, Reggie Bush has caused 16 missed tackles on just 11 more rush attempts. Even Ravens backup Bernard Pierce has broken 10 tackles this season.

Rice's 1.6 average yards after contact is only better than four starting running backs this season (Daryl Richardson, Willis McGahee, Lamar Miller and Chris Johnson). In each of his previous four seasons as the Ravens' featured back, Rice averaged 2.3 yards or more after contact.

* Dan Hanzus of raves about linebacker Terrell Suggs' recent play.
The sun is shining brightly upon the campus of Ball So Hard University.

Terrell Suggs is back in a big way for the Baltimore Ravens. The veteran linebacker is healthy and playing like a man possessed. Or more specifically, a man with his sights set on another Defensive Player of the Year award.

* Peter King of, in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, picks Suggs and kicker Justin Tucker as positional players of the week. Here's what he says about Tucker.

Can’t get much better than this guy. Tucker kicked field goals of 42, 50, 25 and 44 Sunday in Miami, and the last one won the game with 1:42 to play. In his 13-month career with Baltimore, Tucker is 45 of 50 on field goals, making all 22 attempts from inside 40.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/11/2013 11:47 AM

Joe Flacco won't have to worry about Clay Matthews. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, will get no such break against Terrell Suggs on Sunday.

The two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks square off when Flacco and the defending champion Baltimore Ravens host Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers (2-2) suffered a blow when Matthews, their All-Pro outside linebacker, broke his right thumb during last Sunday's 22-9 victory over Detroit at Lambeau Field.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Matthews will miss at least a couple weeks and may have to play with a cast when he returns. Matthews, who also has been bothered by a hamstring injury, hurt his thumb on the final play of the third quarter when he sacked Matthew Stafford.

The fifth-year pro has led the Packers in sacks every season he's been in the league and has a team-high three in 2013.

Green Bay was already struggling against the pass, ranking 26th in the NFL with 288.8 passing yards allowed per game, and without the relentless Matthews will rely on linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry to help pressure Flacco. Neal, a converted defensive end, finished with a sack and six tackles against Detroit, while Perry, a first-round pick last year, had two sacks and five tackles.

"I think Mike Neal has made really good strides. I think you saw him play his best game (Sunday). I think you saw Nick Perry play his best game," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Monday. "We need for Mike Neal and Nick Perry to be ready to play next week the way they played this week. Because they played their best football this week."

Safety Morgan Burnett's return from a hamstring injury should continue to help Green Bay's porous pass defense.

Baltimore (3-2) finally found its ground game in last Sunday's 26-23 win over Miami with a season-best 133 yards, but against a strong Green Bay run defense, Flacco may try winning the game through the air. The Ravens, though, have lost the only two games in which Flacco has thrown for over 300 yards.

His preferred target, wideout Torrey Smith, is the AFC leader with 556 receiving yards after finishing with 121 on six catches against the Lions.

Flacco was 19 of 32 for 269 yards and had one interception which was returned for a touchdown, but it was a much improved performance following his career-worst five picks in a loss at Buffalo a week earlier.

"Joe never gets fazed," coach John Harbaugh said of Flacco, who has been sacked 14 times. "He's not going to get rattled."

The reigning Super Bowl MVP's numbers are nowhere near those of Rodgers, who is second in the NFL with 1,331 passing yards and has nine touchdowns against three interceptions.

Rodgers was 20 of 30 for 274 yards last week, finishing with one TD and no picks, and now stares down a Baltimore pass rush coming off its strongest performance of the season.

Suggs had all three of his sacks in the final quarter against Miami, and Elvis Dumervil sacked Ryan Tannehill for a 5-yard loss in the final minute to push the Dolphins to the edge of field-goal range. Caleb Sturgis missed a 57-yard attempt with 33 seconds to go to hand the Ravens the victory.

Baltimore finished with six sacks and has 19 on the season, second-best in the league.

Suggs is Baltimore's career leader with 91 1/2 sacks and ranks fourth in the NFL this season with seven. With another one against the Packers, he'll set a franchise record with at least one sack in six straight games.

With four tackles against the Packers, Suggs will become the second-leading tackler in Ravens history with 722. Only Ray Lewis has more.

"I don't want to just be known as a pass rusher. I want to be known as a defender that can do more than just one thing," said Suggs, who turns 31 on Friday. "I don't want to just have a lot of sacks. I like to fill up the stat sheet."

Suggs may get his chance against Rodgers, who was sacked a league-high 51 times in 2012 and 11 this year. Suggs missed the Ravens' last matchup with Green Bay as Rodgers was sacked only once and threw for three TDs in the Packers' 27-14 victory in 2009.

Flacco was sacked twice by Matthews as part of one the worst games of his career, going 15 of 36 for 137 yards with three INTs.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/11/2013 12:05 PM

The Green Bay Packers secondary was torched by the likes of Anquan Boldin (13-208-1), Vernon Davis (6-980-2) and Pierre Garcon (8-143-1) during the first two games of the season. However, they looked much better the past two weeks, as they limited A.J. Green to just four catches for 46 yards and a score in Week 3 and kept the Megatron-less Detroit Lions receiving corps in check last week. The Packers face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6; will they be able to keep Torrey Smith in check?

Although ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley notes that Smith "ranks in the top three in the NFL in receiving yards (556), average yards per catch (20.6), receptions of 25 or more yards (seven) and yards after the catch (223)" and has developed into a genuine No. 1 receiver, he's facing tougher defensive schemes in that role.

"The real challenge for Smith is getting open when the entire secondary is focused on stopping him. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said teams are playing 'choke' coverage on Smith, meaning there is one defender jamming him at the line and a safety playing over the top on his side," Jamison wrote.

So far, Smith has handled that coverage well. Plus, the Ravens' passing attack will get a break this week, as the Packers' Clay Matthews will be sidelined and it sounds like CB Casey Hayward remains iffy due to his hamstring injury.

Considering that Smith has had at least 85 yards each game this season and is coming off back-to-back weeks with at least 121 yards, and the Packers secondary remains vulnerable to the big play, we should expect Smith to have another big performance in Week 6

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
10/12/2013 10:55 AM

The Packers have already ruled out cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring), linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring), linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb), running back James Starks (knee) and guard Greg Van Roten (foot). Cornerback Jarrett Bush (hamstring) is questionable, as are 11 members of the Ravens.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (hip), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee), guard Kelechi Osemele (back) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (thigh) are some of the notable names on that list.