KEY MATCHUP: Joe Flacco vs. the Packers pass defense. We have been waiting all year long for Joe Flacco to have the breakout game. He’s thrown for more than 300 yards twice this year, both losses. In the Ravens three wins, he’s averaged 217 yards per game. That’s mostly because the Ravens offensive line hasn’t protected him well at all. The Packers pass defense is 26th in the NFL. Clay Matthews is out. That should give Flacco more time. Torrey Smith leads the AFC in receiving yards so far this season. That breakout game could be this week.
THE RAVENS WIN IF: They win the time of possession battle. Keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. It’s that simple. He will beat you with his arm. He will beat you with his legs. He will beat you with his head because he’s one of the best at reading defenses in the league. The less opportunity you give him to have the ball in his hands, the better chance you have to win this game.
THE PACKERS WIN IF: The Ravens can’t stop the run. Despite the “pass-happy” perception of the Packers, they have the 5th best running game in the league. The Ravens gave up over 200 yards on the ground in a loss to the Bills and then responded by holding the Dolphins to just 22 yards rushing. Which run defense will show up? If the one against the Bills does, the Ravens won’t win.
FANTASY TIP: I’m sticking with Marlon Brown. He was a late scratch last week. But while Torrey Smith is eating up yards between the twenties, Brown and his size are a red zone target for Joe Flacco. The rookie should catch his fourth touchdown in five games.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: First place in the AFC North. The Bengals have refused to take control of this division. They are in Buffalo this week, where the Ravens lost two weeks ago. Cincy could lose, but it’s not likely. The Ravens will face a Packers team that needs a statement win. They will get Green Bay’s best. It will be a bad way to go into Pittsburgh next week for the Ravens if they lose this week.
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