Tale Of The Tape: Green Bay Packers At Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackAaron Rodgers should be turned on to face last year’s Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco in what could turn into a great shootout before the game is over. Rodgers’ accuracy is his best asset, followed closely by his ability to make plays on the run after the defense has broken down. He also does a superb job of diagnosing soft spots in the opposing defense.Joe Flacco will force the ball into coverage because he has so much confidence in his arm. While that will work on occasion, he will lose that battle as he did in Week Four vs. the Bills. John Harbaugh would like Flacco to attack the game like a heavyweight boxer. Short pass, short pass, short pass followed by the big play.
- OffenseThe Packers once again have one of the most consistent offenses in the league. Fullback John Kuhn is a powerful blocker who helps the running game and is Rodgers’ security blanket. Jordy Nelson is a possession receiver who can make big plays. Randall Cobb is a deep threat who can also go over the middle. Tight end Jermichael Finley needs to be more consistent.The Ravens used to be a team that could depend on its running game, but Ray Rice has not displayed any of the breakaway ability that used to be his signature. Torrey Smith gives the Ravens a solid downfield threat who will catch the deep ball. Tight end Dallas Clark is a comfortable third-down target for Flacco.
- DefenseThe Packers have made a commitment to playing more physical football after getting pushed around in the postseason by the Niners. It’s a great idea, but it’s not working as Green Bay is giving up far too much yardage. The front seven tends to get pushed backwards and injured linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) is not getting enough support. Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk is a solid tackler.They depend on inside linebacker Daryl Smith to give them focus and consistent tackling. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is still an effective pass rusher, but he is an all-or-nothing type who makes a lot of mistakes. Strong safety James Ihedigbo is a big hitter who should only get better because of his range and instincts.
- Special TeamsThe Packers have done a fine job covering punts this year, but have had more trouble covering kickoffs. They would like to get a lift from Randall Cobb on kickoffs, who has not had an impact yet. Placekicker Mason Crosby is performing better than he did last year and Tim Masthay is a solid directional punter.The Ravens are a solid coverage team and they get a lift from Tandon Doss, who has already brought one punt back for a touchdown. Placekicker Justin Tucker has just been ordinary this season and could get nervous when the game is on the line. Sam Koch is a very effective directional kicker.
The Ravens should be primed for this game as they return home after two consecutive weeks on the road. They can’t afford to be at anything less than their best against the explosive Packers, who are not always as explosive when they go on the road. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor