How The Ravens Can Stop Aaron Rodgers
By Josh Aronson
This Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens have one of their toughest tests of the season as they welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to M&T Bank Stadium. Rodgers is considered by many to be the best quarterback in the league and the Ravens will need to play their best defense of the year if they want to pull out the victory.
Let’s take a look at three ways that the Ravens can slow down the high-powered Packers’ offense:
1) Flacco and the Offense Must Control the Ball
The best way to stop Rodgers is to keep him off the field. The Ravens must limit the opportunities that the Green Bay offense gets and run the ball effectively with Ray Rice. Rice had his best game of the season last week (two touchdowns) and will need to play even better this week.
Look for the Ravens to establish the run early and dominate the time of possession. Flacco must take care of the ball and have zero turnovers, giving Rodgers a short field. Expect Rice to finish with 20 carries 125 yards and one touchdown. The Ravens are 24-4 when Rice gets at least 20 touches. In short…FEED THE BEAST!
2) Get After Rodgers Early and Often
The Ravens have the more sacks through five games in 2013 than in any previous season in team history. OLB Terrell Suggs is having an MVP-type season with at least one sack in each game and 7 1/2 on the season. On the other side of the line, OLB Elvis Dumervil has felt right at home in Baltimore and has been an excellent complement to Suggs.
Look for Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees to dial up a lot of blitzes against Rodgers and try to hurry his throws. Rodgers has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and the Ravens’ defensive backs must hold their own against the talented Packers’ receivers. Look for Suggs to get his ninth sack of the season and rookie S Matt Elam to record his first NFL interception.
3) Stop the Packers Run Game
Making the Packers one-dimensional should be the highest priority on Sunday for the Ravens. Rodgers is hard enough to beat, but if the Packers are running effectively with rookie RB Eddie Lacy, than the Ravens will struggle to get off the field. The Ravens haven’t been great against the run, allowing over 200 yard to the Bills two weeks ago.
The Ravens linebackers – including Courtney Upshaw, Daryl Smith and Josh Bynes – must dominate the line of scrimmage and limit the Packers to fewer than 50 yards rushing. Lacy will be held without a touchdown and the Green Bay rushing attack will be a non-factor.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Packers 23