A late-season matchup between the Packers and Ravens had to be close to a dream scenario for the NFL schedule makers back when the league released its slate of games. Surely the NFL MVPs for the two previous seasons would come together for a game to remember, right?
Instead, amid a league-wide outbreak of COVID-19, the Packers and Ravens find themselves on opposite sides of the health spectrum. Though Jaire Alexander and David Bakhtiari won’t play this week, both are headed in the right direction, with Za’Darius Smith not far behind them. The Ravens, on the other hand, get more banged up by the day. Their injury list includes just about as many big names as the Packers’ does, starting with their superstar quarterback.
So what will this game even look like? For answers, we turned to Vasilis Lericos of Baltimore Beatdown.
Acme Packing Company: Lamar Jackson hasn’t practiced this week, but the Ravens haven’t ruled him out yet. Assuming he plays, do you expect the offense to look any different if he’s less than 100%?
Vasilis Lericos: If Lamar’s mobility is limited I would expect offensive coordinator Greg Roman to call fewer designed QB runs. Without the threat of Jackson’s legs, the running backs would have trouble finding lanes.
Lamar’s scrambling has also been a major part of the rushing success this season so if his ankle is not right that would certainly impact the offense.
APC: There’s a small hive of Tyler Huntley fans on the APC staff. If something would change and Jackson can’t go, how confident are you in the Ravens’ #2 guy? What’s your overall opinion of him?
VL: Huntley is a solid backup with a similar skillset to Lamar. Not quite as agile or explosive in the open field but a rushing threat nonetheless.
As a passer, Huntley probably has a stronger arm than Lamar but does not offer the instincts and improvisational flair that Jackson provides.
APC: How do you think the Ravens will try to attack the Packers’ defense, and what should the Packers do to try to stop them?
VL: I expect the Ravens to attack the intermediate level with Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman, while also attempting to put Marquise Brown in position to run after the catch.
Safety play is crucial against the Ravens scheme, bringing the safeties into the box and forcing Baltimore to matriculate down the field with precision passing has challenged the Ravens.
APC: Just in terms of raw stats, nobody on the Ravens’ defense seems to be having an overwhelmingly positive year even if the defense as a whole seems quite solid. What is the defense’s greatest strength, and who should we be watching?
The Ravens' outside linebackers have played well this season. Tyus Bowser is an efficient edge rusher and probably the top coverage outside ‘backer in the league. Odafe Oweh has made several splash plays in showcase games during his rookie campaign. And the veteran, Justin Houston, is still capable of getting to the quarterback on a regular basis if the coverage prevents quick passing.
APC: What’s your prediction for Sunday?
VL: When the schedule was released, I thought the Ravens matched up reasonably well against the Packers. But Baltimore is so banged up at this point it is hard to pick against Green Bay.
There is no way to replace the advantages All-Pro cover corners Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey provided. And the abysmal offensive tackle situation has amplified the offensive scheme issues.
Barring special teams scores and uncharacteristic turnovers, I expect the Packers to win by more than a touchdown.