Packers-Ravens: Q+A With Examiner Anthony Wisniewski
For the upcoming Monday Night Football match-up between the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens, I got in touch with the Ravens Examiner Tony Wisniewski and asked him some questions. He did the same and you can see how I responded here. The Packers enter the contest at 7-4, winners of three straight while the Ravens sit at 6-5, alternating wins and losses the last six weeks. Here’s a look at some of the questions that the Ravens will need to answer for Monday.
Mark Strotman:Against a similar 3-4 look that you saw against the Steelers, how will the Ravens attack the Packers defense, ranked first in the league?
Anthony Wisniewski: The Ravens will need to stick to the basics against a stingy Packers defense. Much like last Sunday Night against Pittsburgh, the Ravens will look to establish the run-game with the trio of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and LeRon McClain. In that same light, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will need to be a bit more creative than he has been in recent weeks, as the Ravens have struggled to get the passing attack in gear. Look for the Ravens to attempt to pound the ball early, and then open the air attack up by relying on play action. However, if the Packer defense swallows up the run-game early, Cameron has a tendency to abandon his gameplan; a move that could be disaterous for Baltimore.
MS: Aaron Rodgers has developed into one of the game’s best passers. With a struggling pass defense, how will the Ravens contain him?
AW: Since their bye in week 7, the Ravens have yet to allow more than 17 points to any opposing team. The pass defense has struggled all season, however, with Fabian Washington on IR for the season, rookie Lardarius Webb has made the most of his opportunity and is actually viewed by most as an upgrade over the soft-tackling Washington.
Dominique Foxworth has been a liability all season at corner, however, he seems to make plays when it really matters. Moreover, with Ed Reed on the field, it’s hard to count the Ravens out of any game, and any play. Look for the Ravens to play a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense. One thing is for sure, they won’t get beat for the big play; but Rodgers could very well dink-and-dunk them to death. It will be interesting to see how the Packers gameplan for this matchup.
MS: Should we expect to see a lot of blitzes from the Ravens to take advantage of Green Bay’s struggling offensive line?
AW: Yes and no. The Packers’ offensive line has gotten healthier and more efficient in recent weeks, and the Ravens are well aware of that. In that same light, the Ravens have struggled to establish much of a pass-rush from their front four, meaning that blitz packages are certainly neccesary in order to avoid Rodgers getting too comfortable. There is little doubt that the Ravens will rely on the blitz, especially in long-yardage situations, but they will not continuously “send the house” all night.
MS: What is more important in taking Ray Rice out of the flow of the game: shutting him down running or making sure he can’t catch passes out of the backfield?
AW: Given Rice’s ability to do some much, so well, it’s hard to determine which way you would not want to let him beat you. But, given the fact that Willis McGahee can also run the ball between the tackles if need be, Rice’s dynamic playmaking ability has to come from the threat of him catching screens and swing passes.
Rice is easily one of the most elusive backs in the league, and he is extremely tough to tackle because of his low center of gravity. Opposing defenses do not want to allow him the opportunity to catch the ball on the run, either, because of his continued ability to make cuts and jukes. Thus, the key is to force him to the middle of the field, and make him run up the middle.
MS: The Ravens are 2-3 on the road while the Packers are 4-2 at home. What will it take for the Ravens to win and what is your final prediction?
AW: The Ravens have had a tumultous year and sometimes it’s hard to figure out which team will show up week in and week out. But, with the defense playing better as a whole and the reemergence of the rushing attack, it’s safe to say that Baltimore can matchup well-enough to win the game. Given the fact that the Packers are in better spot in the NFC playoff picture, the Ravens need the game more. Desperation could be the key to this game.
RAVENS 19, Packers 13
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