Will Aaron Rodgers get the Packers offense on a roll in the coming weeks? Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Bird Watching: Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens


 

Monday and Tuesday are when we revel in a win or bemoan a loss. It’s Wednesday – and that means, week six is officially upon us. It is time to look forward to another week of football.

For the Green Bay Packers, that means traveling to Baltimore to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens.

Just another day at the office.

Every team has dynamic playmakers, every team has strengths and weaknesses. It is a constant ebb and flow in game planning, schemes and personnel. What are the Packers planning for when they meet the Ravens this Sunday?

I’ll tell you which birds they need to be watching and taking notes on this week …

They need to be watching Ray Rice. This comes as no surprise. The Baltimore Ravens have established a long-standing identity as being a run-first offense. They want to cram the ball down the opponents’ throats, dominate time of possession and keep star quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers off the field.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports photograph

In the past couple of years, Joe Flacco has been slowly taking reps away from Ray Rice with the emergence of some down-field threats. But, the bread and butter of that team is Ray Rice and when he carries the ball 20-plus times in a game, their rate of success is very high. The Packers front seven needs to eat their Wheaties this week in preparation for Rice, who is a small running back with an enormous amount of downhill power. He is strong, physical and evasive. The Packers need to frustrate him early and force Flacco to toss the ball around.

They need to be watching Torrey Smith. This man is averaging 111.2 yards per game this season. His per-catch average is more than 20 yards. He has only accounted for one touchdown so far, but he is a far more valuable as a downfield threat than his stats suggest.

He has already racked up 556 yards on 26 receptions this year. He is looking to have a big game against a very young Green Bay secondary. It is going to be a big plus having Morgan Burnett back on the field, shadowing Sam Shields in coverage of Smith. He is a big, able-bodied receiver that is well worth the double team. He is a bird that can never leave our sight.

They need to be watching tandem OLBs Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. These are some big boys. Dumervil is playing with a chip on his shoulder right now, and Suggs is trying to make up for the loss of Ray Lewis. We should not overlook their size, power and aggressiveness when preparing our offensive line for this game. The Packers don’t want these two to have a big game, getting in Aaron Rodgers’ head. If our receivers can get separation, our O-line can protect the pocket and Rodgers should be able to make plays with his arm and his feet. Doing this would put their big defensive front on their heels and slice up a mediocre secondary.

Mike McCarthy knows how to get this team to perform at a championship level. The Packers will certainly have the champion Ravens in their crosshairs come Sunday.

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