Two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks will face off on Sunday as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers head east to take on Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have had up-and-down seasons so far, but are coming off of wins. The Packers made quick work of the Lions in Week 5, and the Ravens defense held off a Dolphins rally for a 26-23 win.
The Packers will be looking for their first road win of the season, and they couldn't have picked a more difficult place than in Baltimore, where the defense has been on lockdown. The Ravens defense has given up an average of 30.6 points on the road (the Denver blowout didn't help), but has given up a stifling 15 points in two contest at home.
Meet the Ravens
The defending Super Bowl champions started almost as flat as possible with a big loss to the Denver Broncos on the road. Over time, that loss doesn't look as bad anymore; Peyton Manning is destroying defenses left and right, and the Ravens rebounded with two straight wins. The offense has sputtered a bit at times, as seen in Flacco's five-interception performance in a loss at Buffalo.
Against the Dolphins, the Ravens rediscovered the run game, and it is a big key to keeping pressure off of Flacco. As a team, Baltimore is 27th in the league with 77.8 rushing yards per game, but in Week 5, they finished with 133 yards on the ground -- the first game this season they've topped 100 rushing yards. Luckily, the emergence of Torrey Smith as one of the better receivers in the league has helped ease the sting of Ray Rice's short gains. Smith is third in the league with 556 yards, behind Julio Jones and Jimmy Graham. Flacco is also airing it out a bit more and is on pace for a career high in pass attempts.
The Ravens defense isn't as fearsome as it once was in years past, but it still holds its own against the run. The Ravens allow just 89.8 rushing yards per game, good for sixth in the league.
Meet the Packers
The Packers have one of the more prolific offenses in the nation, rated fourth in the league in passing yards and fifth in the league in rushing yards. The passing stats are nothing new, but for the first time in a while, the Packers have legitimate running threats. Granted, they can still score a lot of points quickly, but Eddie Lacy and the offensive line have made the Packers a more balanced team than in recent years.
The defense has been a slightly different story. The Packers still hold up fine against the run this season, but the secondary has been porous. A broken thumb to linebacker Clay Matthews only makes matters worse as the team will try to pressure Flacco and keep Smith in check. Green Bay will turn to Mike Neal and Nick Perry, and hope that safety Morgan Burnett's presence will help ease the pressure a bit.
Local Takes: Ravens
The folks at Baltimore Beatdown have no problem with a three-way tie for first in the AFC North.
Then comes the last bit of news Ravens fans will enjoy. Not included in the three-way tie for first place with tiebreakers separating the teams, one team in the division has yet to win a game. On top of that, the Steelers did not play during Week 5, which means they have yet to record a win in 2013.
Local Takes: Packers
Brendan Kennedy at Acme Packing Company likes the way the Packers are gutting out victories this season.
Ultimately the Packers got the win, which is the important thing. But while watching the game, it wasn't so much that they won that stood out to me. It was the manner in which they did it. This wasn't the high octane, box-score filling, fantasy team crushing, stat orgy of 2011. Aside from James Jones' 83-yarder (which included plenty of YAC), there were no deep, arcing rainbow throws. Instead, the Packers won in a way few saw coming - by physically whipping the Lions at their own game.
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This might just be the worst OL in #Ravens franchise history.— Baltimore Beatdown (@BMoreBeatdown) October 6, 2013
If you started James Jones in your fantasy league this week...well done.— Acme Packing Company (@acmepackingco) October 6, 2013
@JeffZrebicSun - Ravens beat reporter
And adding to Ravens' misery, punter Sam Koch has had as poor of a first half as the offensive line.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) October 6, 2013
@TyDunne - Packers beat reporter
Even though the Packers are heading on the road, the crew at SB Nation has the utmost faith that Green Bay will pull out the win, picking in favor of the cheese heads, 5-0.
The Packers are slight favorites to win the game, holding a two-to-three point spread, according to Oddsshark.com.