Ball-Hawking Ravens Defense Presents Stiffest Challenge yet for Hundley

Fresh off a win over their longtime rivals, the Chicago Bears, the Packers stand at 5-4 as they welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Lambeau Field this Sunday. The victory in Chicago marked the first of Brett Hundley’s tenure as starting quarterback, as well as the third-year signal caller’s most promising performance to date.

For some time now, Baltimore’s identity has been their hard-hitting, black and blue style of defense. Unfortunately for Hundley and the Packers, the 2017 Ravens bring a stingy defense to the table once again—only, the way they go about their business has changed a bit.

From 2001 to 2016, the Ravens fell outside of the top 10 in rushing defense just four times. Three such instances, however, have come since 2012, a season in which they finished 20th in the league. Fast-forward to 2017, and Baltimore currently ranks 28th in the league, surrendering a shade under 126 rushing yards per game—obviously a far cry from the stout defensive units the rest of league has grown accustomed to over the years.

Still, the Ravens clock in at sixth in total defense for 2017, and the biggest reason has been their extremely opportunistic pass defense.

Some quick notes:

  • At 184.7 yards per game, the unit ranks third in the NFL in pass defense.
  • They lead the league in interceptions with 13, and have five players with at least two interceptions on the year.
  • They have held opposing quarterbacks to a just under 57 percent completion rate, second only to the Chiefs.
  • They trail only the Jaguars in opponent quarterback rating, posting a 69.8 average.

The numbers paint a relatively clear picture—this isn’t the Ravens defense of old. But they can be just as dangerous if you’re not careful.

For the Packers, concern in this matchup obviously stems from an inexperienced starting quarterback facing a defense that has survived on the mistakes of opposing passers. Three of Baltimore’s four wins on the season have come in games where their defense snagged two or more interceptions.

That’s not to say Mike McCarthy and his staff should limit their trust in Hundley, and they probably won’t. But it wouldn’t shock anyone if the game plan is heavy on quick-hitting, rhythm passes that don’t allow the Ravens’ ball-hawking secondary to break on the football.

One area the Packers could look to exploit is their tight end matchups. According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens rank dead last in the league in DVOA against opposing tight ends, so Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers could be busy. Regardless, this will be the toughest test Hundley has faced yet, and the Packers can ill-afford for him to give away possessions by being baited into mistakes.

Green Bay made a more concerted effort to run the ball last week in Chicago, which resulted in a balanced offensive attack and wound up paying dividends when all was said and done. With Aaron Jones out and Ty Montgomery’s status in doubt, they’ll turn to Jamaal Williams to handle the majority of the carries. How successful those carries turn out to be could very well make all the difference for the Packer offense. The success of the passing game, then, will depend on a combination of a serviceable running attack as well as Hundley’s ability to diagnose his options and make smart decisions with the football when he gets the chance to make a play.

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Comments (10)

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Bearmeat's picture

November 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm

It's not an understatement to say the season hangs on this game. Win this, Tampa and Cleveland, and ARod is eligible to come back with his team sitting at 8-5.

Run that rock MM!

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

November 17, 2017 at 02:38 pm

They were supposed to go all out against Detroit but did not .. i don't see how the packers will beat the steelers... Minnesota has some tough games. . Detroit has a fairly easy schedule. ..would not be surprised if Detroit wins division.

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NickPerry's picture

November 18, 2017 at 07:41 am

Looking at the Vikings next 4 games they could easily go 0-4. The Vikings WILL come back down to earth, just like they do EVERY year. Last year they had a 5 game streak at the beginning of the year. This year it's in the middle of the season, but mark my words, the Vikings will lost at least 2 or 3 of the next 4 games. I don't think the Vikings are beating the Falcons or Panthers, not on the road. If the Rams beat them Sunday and the Packers beat the Ravens things could be come interesting really quickly.

The Lions have a much, much easier go of it but their still the Lions.

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al bundy's picture

November 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I think if the Ravens come out passing early and often they may have success and ditto for the Packers too.
Mike M's run twice and pass if we have to mentality doesnt work. I understand he is trying to keep his weak and pourous D off the field but at the expense of not being agressive and scorinng points.
Big big game for both teams. Season on the line.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

November 17, 2017 at 01:45 pm

As I Posted last night ( Around The NFC North Week 11) This is the game I want. IF GB wins Sunday, I like the fact that they could go 5 & 2, & maybe 6 & 1. I haven't given up on the Pittsburg game yet. As I said last night, it's really a Stretch at this point, but I couldn't pass up on GB @ 35 - 1 to win the NFC. My $40 is worth $1440 if they do. GB is currently 70 -1 to Win the SB. That's $2840 for $40. No question it's a Stretch, but I like the Price. Sunday will tell the story!! If they don't Win Sunday, I hope somehow Detroit gets in the Playoffs.
LVT

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Johnblood27's picture

November 17, 2017 at 11:50 pm

wow, an entire post without asking taryn out.

Im impressed!

Im an idiot, i got GB for NFC champs at 6:1 and SB at 10:1. Before exhibition games even.

I also have Wash St at 18:1 for Pac12 title. Go Cougs, thats 50 on that for a nice $900 payout.

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billybobton's picture

November 17, 2017 at 01:54 pm

dont worry to much, after R ROD their score on TEs will be better

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Duneslick's picture

November 17, 2017 at 09:49 pm

Packer Greg says he thinks the packers will be 8-8 at best without Rogers

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Since'61's picture

November 17, 2017 at 10:20 pm

The Packers OL are the key to this game for the Packers. If they can get the run game going and keep the Ravens off balance with play-action the Packers have a good chance.

If the Packers fall behind and need to pass to stay or get back in the game that will be trouble since the Ravens have had an excellent pass defense this season and have 13 picks in 9 games.

The Ravens are ranked 28th against the run so we should pound away until they stop it especially if we are playing with a lead. Chew up the clock and keep Flacco off the field as much as possible.

On defense the Packers need to get pressure up the middle on the less than mobile Flacco. Make him throw on the run and create some TOs. I'm expecting Flacco to come out throwing early and often. Our pass rush needs to keep him uncomfortable in the pocket. This game is a good barometer to see who shows up on defense this week for the Packers as opposed to shutting down the punchless Bears. Go Pack Go!

Thanks, Since '61

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dobber's picture

November 18, 2017 at 06:24 pm

Baltimore is 4-1 in games in which they've won the TO battle this season (including their two shutouts and the Cleveland game where they were +9) and 0-4 otherwise. As a matter of fact, virtually all their TOs forced come in those 5 games...they're -5 outside of the three games mentioned. Take away those two shutouts and they give up nearly 25 points per game (and averae about 18.5 scored). LVT might be saying that TOs are overrated, but I think they really tell a story here.

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