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Power Football - Can The Pack Stop It?

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Power Football - Can The Pack Stop It?

Much is being made this week of the Packers #1 ranking on the defensive side of the ball. The players and coaches are doing a pretty good job of deflecting the storyline, as they seem well aware that the only thing that matters is how you finish at the end of the year, not at the end of Week 12.

And what better way to test their newfound status as King of the NFL's defensive heap than for a heaping helping of good ol' fashioned smashmouth power football? Because that's what I expect to see out of the Ravens this Monday.

As Bruce Smith pointed out over at Chatters:

The Steelers and their league’s top-rated rushing defense were softened by constant pounding by the Ravens, who were able to run 12 times for 57 yards in the first half, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. This allowed Baltimore to come away with 132 total rushing yards — led by Ray Rice’s 88 yards, Willis McGahee’s five carries for 18 yards and a TD, and fullback Le’Ron McClain’s four attempts for 28 yards.

The Ravens achieved this success against the vaunted Steeler defense by ratcheting up their physicality at the point of attack, by going Jumbo and bringing back the unbalanced offensive line that gave them so much success last year.

The Ravens out muscled Pittsburgh by going to a jumbo package at times in the first half, inserting the mauling Marshal Yanda at right guard with the first team and bringing 315 pound guard Chris Chester, who had previously been starting there, in as an extra blocker.

...The other part of their new Jumbo Package includes adding more push up front by bringing in 345 pound defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as a fullback/tight end. In fact, Ngata was in the game for two plays, including McGahee’s touchdown run. McGahee got his 6th TD of the year by following Ngata’s block up the middle, as the massive defender took out two Steelers.

The Ravens used an unbalanced line to great effect last season and it would seem they're getting back into that groove as quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled a bit over the course of the last month. When was the last time the Packers saw a healthy dose of unbalanced line? You guessed it - Week Two against the Bengals when Cedric Benson and company ran all over the Packer defense.

A lot has changed since then, from Bigby, Raji and Barnett getting healthy to the whole unit getting more familiar with the defense. What we haven't seen since Week Two, however, is a team really line up and pound the ball down after down. The Vikings and Cowboys both had some success early but both got away from the run (for different reasons) and the 49ers, the team I really expected to pound the Packers with the running game, fell so far behind so fast that the Niners had little choice but to start throwing the ball and take to the air.

Unless the Packers can put up similar points early against the Ravens (a feat I don't think is impossible) look for Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly to earn their paychecks this week.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

hollycrat's picture

I think our best weapon against this is the Raji is healthy enough to spell any of the other 3 guys on the DL - even a 15-snap respite for any of the big guys should allow them to be fresher in the 4th quarter. Raji also talked about this in the locker room on Tuesday. We didn't have this option in W2. Do I think it can overcome Ngata? Maybe not completely...but it's certainly going to help.

packeraaron's picture

It's got to help - and I wouldn't mind sprinkling in a little of the rookie Wynn here and there. Just please, for the love of God - no Montgomery. ;)

Dilligaff's picture

This is where I think (hope) AJ Hawk shines and earns his paycheck and the Packers get a big return on their 5th over all draft selection. It will be interesting if Thompson will be used more because of his size in place of Jones at outside LB. I think we will be fine against the Ravens, they are a 6-5 team, they must have some weakness.

NickGBP's picture

Scouts say Rice isn't an elite RB. I think people here are overrating him a bit. The Ravens rushing game is rated lower than the Packs so that should give you an idea. We've already faced better RBs and did a great job except for that Bengals game as you mentioned. The unbalanced line scares me after that game but it's not something new...I'd assume Capers will be prepared for it this time.

packeraaron's picture

Nick - "Scouts say Rice isn’t an elite RB." - I can only assume you're basing this on Dougherty's article where he has a coach quoted as saying
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"Their back is a very talented runner,” one coach said. “Is he a top-tier guy? I don’t think he’s a top-tier guy, but he’s very versatile.”
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I think that's ridiculous. Rice is one of the best young backs in the league period just below Chris Johnson. The guy is a stud.

alfredomartinez's picture

i agree with nagler, rice is pretty effin good, i like his toughness. sure we have shut down the run game this season several times, but on the other hand we've allowed a passing attack to hurt us at times. maybe im wrong but i undestand why everyone is focused this week on the defensive side of the ball, thats obvious; however where im putting my chips this week is on the offesive side. i dont think the ravens have as many weapons as rodgers does offensebly, and mason aint no DD (and by any means i aint trying to diss the guy--cause if thats the case, its fair to say grand aint no rice either!!)GO PACK

DaveK's picture

When they roll out the unbalanced line they often run a reverse or bootleg out of it to keep the defense honest but for the most part you know where the run is heading when the 3rd OT comes on the field. I think the key to defending it is for the outside defender on the unbalanced side to hold the edge. That could be a DE or the OLB but if he doesn't hold stout it is real hard to defend.

Ron LC's picture

This will be a LB game. The key is going to be quick LB reponse to the run. They still don't take a lot of chances with Placko yet, but he can't be ignored. A quick surge by the Dline and good reaction by the LB's is what they need. They weren't exactly a scoring team against Pittsburg.
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I'm more concerned about how well the Oline will hold up against the Raven defense. Two old and one almost old holdovers from Sherman are the anchors of the line. Sitton has played better lately, but Colledge has reversed a bit. Give Rodgers time and they can win this.
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And please, someone tell Slocum to get his head out of his rectum and do something to get the coverage team doing the right thing.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Rice is goooood, and he is a dangerous receiver too.

Brady Augustine's picture

Jumbo packages come with trade-off's and the trade off is in the passing game. The jumbo package makes it difficult for the defense to set the edge but if we can do that - and we can on the strong side, that will keep the gaps tight for our linebackers. Jumbo packages minimize the fact that Al Harris is not on the field but we will miss Aaron Kampman in this one. Rice is good but we've seen better and he is NO Chris Johnson.

PACKERS.'s picture

Agreed. This game will be a real test of whether GB is worthy of the number one ranking. They haven't seen many offenses like this all year, so I have my doubts. But like you said, said, a lot has changed on our defense, so I think we've got a chance.

Bomdad's picture

they won't run if they are behind.

PackerMax's picture

It seems obvious to say, but whoever controls the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, is going to win this game. I think our defensive line will rise to the challenge; I hope our offensive line will follow suit.

elhandro's picture

It's also worth mentioning the vaunted Steelers run defense is without Aaron Smith. Add that loss with Troy and that will hurt anyone's chances against the run.

PackerFan4Life's picture

Im predicting another charles woodson memorable game. I think hes going to have 2 ints 1 for a pick 6 1 FF and 10 tackles 3 passes defended

I think the packers will be very prepared and ready for this ravens team. I really really hope they beat them cause I am sick and tired of reading retarded vikings posting crap all over about how the packers are garbage and want something to shut them the F*&^$ up

Chicago Hooligan's picture

NUT-CRUNCHING TIME

Ruppert's picture

A lot of great points on here. Our D vs. Baltimore's run game will definitely tell a lot about the current state of our defensive transition, and it will likely tell us how much success we will have the rest of the year. I think we will be able to handle it. Is Baltimore's run game THAT much more impressive than Dallas' or Minnesota's? Baltimore is slightly behind the Pack in both yds/game and YPC. This is doable.
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To me, what's more important is how the offense functions, and specifically if we can keep up the pass protection. If we can keep Aaron off his butt, I don't see how we can't score enough points to put some serious pressure on the Ravens offense to score. Whenever there is pressure on the opponents' offense, it seems like Woodson immediately starts to smell INTs...and Flacco is good, but he's still young and Wood is a very crafty vet.
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We have a string of cold weather games coming up against pretty tough teams. This week should tell us a lot about the rest of the year.

WoodyG's picture

Let them run their 'power game'...... The Ravens offense has scored 4 TDs & kicked 8 FGs in their last four games....... They've rushed for 419 yards on 116 carries for a whopping 3.6 per carry ......... Flacco will have to throw to beat the Pack D & he simply does not have the weapons ...... The best Baltimore will do is a couple of FGs & a late garbage TD when the game is already decided ....... Say..... 31-13.

Brady Augustine's picture

I sure hope you're right. The Steelers did some really poor tackling had some overpursuit that led to a lot of the backside lanes being open. I think the Steelers were not themselves in that game. I DO respect the Ravens running game so I figure they may grind it out and that is why I am not expecting us to score quite that many points but you are definitely right that we are capable of that kind of total.

NickGBP's picture

Here's the point I was trying to make earlier. We've already faced better runners on teams that have a balanced offense. Ex AP and Barber. Even with the explosiveness of the run game we still stopped Barber and Peterson (mostly in the first game). Obviously in the Vikings game the passing game beat us, but when you go to a team like the Ravens where they don't have that same balance, to me it's an easy advantage for our D. Hell we managed to keep the most balanced and explosive offense at the time (the Cowboys) effectively off the score board the whole game. As long as the Pack comes prepared there should be no excuse for losing....
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Oh wait. We have a special teams that doesn't 'just work' (like a sewer!) that can turn the entire game to the Ravens. We have penalties which are still an issue as well. The OL is finally stabilizing, (I predict 3 sacks) so that's a relative plus. Hopefully Clifton can go although it doesnt sound good. But I think they'll be good to go.
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Essentially the only way I see us losing is if we "beat ourselves." And with penalties and the special teams problems, that certainly is a possibility.

PACKERS.'s picture

Excellent points everyone. By the way, I'm getting an error on the CHTV matchup post. Is it just my computer?

foundindaho's picture

Nope, Packers, me too. It says Corey may fix it soon. That's a pretty good standard message...Corey?

PACKERS.'s picture

I'm usually on my iPod, so I don't get that message, I get some random code thing. Either way, I hope it gets fixed soon. I'm short on quality Packer reading material :(

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