By the Numbers: Comparing the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens

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Robert Griffin III oses his helmet while being tackled. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The Packers clearly hold an advantage over the Ravens on offense, but defense is another story.

The Baltimore defense may not be the dominating group it has been in the past, but they’re still stout and have a very talented front seven. They are the 14th ranked club in the NFL in both total yards (335.4) and points (22) allowed per game. This is quite a bit ahead of Green Bay’s defense, who allows a 20th-ranked 374.8 yards per game and 17th-ranked 24.2 points per game.

The Ravens may give up some yardage, but they know how to get off the field. They only allow 16.8 first downs a game and have held their opponents to a 30% third down conversion rate. They’re ranked fourth in the NFL in both of these categories, but they also lead the league in penalties with 42. The Packers defense isn’t quite as impressive in these categories. They allow 19.8 first downs per game and their opponents are 42% on third down.

Run Defense

The Packers rushing defense has really improved this season. They are the fifth-ranked run defense in the NFL and allow only 86 yards per game on the ground. Baltimore is just behind Green Bay in run defense by allowing only 89.8 rushing yards per game. At 3.4 yards per carry, the Ravens defense does hold a slight advantage over Green Bay (3.7) in opponent rushing average.

Baltimore also doesn’t give up very many explosive runs. The longest run the Ravens defense has given up this season is 16 yards. They’ve also only allowed one rushing touchdown and 18 runs for first down, making them second in the league in both of these categories.

The Packers on the other hand have allowed three rushing touchdowns and four runs over twenty yards this season. Green Bay is one of the top groups in the league in runs for first down, only allowing one behind Baltimore with 19.

Pass Defense

Pass defense is one area the Ravens have been clearly better this season than the Packers. Green Bay has the 26th-ranked pass defense in the league giving up 288.8 yards per game in the air. Compare this to the Ravens, who rank 16th with 245.6 passing yards per game, and the difference is pretty significant.

What is more telling though is opponent passer rating. Quarterbacks facing the Ravens defense have averaged a 94 passer rating, which is 22nd in the league and nothing to write home about, but the Packers opposing quarterbacks have faired much better and average a 107.2 passer rating. Green Bay is an abysmal 29th in the NFL in this category. Opposing quarterbacks also complete 66.7% of their passes against the Packers, which is far more than the 59.7% Baltimore allows.

In game changing plays, the Packers aren’t quite where they used to be. They’re 22nd in the league in sacks with 12, 26th in interceptions with only 2, and 17th in pass touchdowns allowed with 9.  Granted, the Packers have played one less game than most NFL teams, so you’ll have to take these rankings with a grain of salt. Green Bay’s defense does average three sacks per game, which is decent compared to the rest of the league. However, their leading pass rusher, Clay Matthews, has three of their 12 sacks this season and won’t play Sunday. The Packers have seven different players with one sack this season and only one other player, Nick Perry, that has at least two sacks.

Baltimore is great at getting pressure. With Terrell Suggs (7 sacks) and Elvis Dumervil (3 sacks), the Ravens defense is second in the league with 19 sacks over the first five games. They average 3.8 sacks a game, but they’ve only forced three interceptions and have allowed nine passing touchdowns so far this season.

Nick Perry (53) knocks the football away from Matthew Stafford. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

So what can we conclude from all these numbers?

Well, it appears the Packers’ strength (offense) will be matched against the Ravens’ strength (defense), and it may come down to which unit will play better than their “rankings” when the Ravens offense takes the field against a Packers defense that is just figuring things out and will be without their best player.

The numbers tell us the Packers top ranked running game will be challenged by a tough Ravens defensive front. The numbers also tell us Rodgers may have a big day against a struggling Baltimore secondary if he can get protection against one of the best pass rushing units in the league. The numbers also say that the Packers should be able to stonewall a struggling Ravens ground game, but they will have to game plan for big-play threat Torrey Smith in the passing game.

But that’s the funny thing with statistics. Numbers can be misleading, so you tell me what you think? Do the stats give us any idea of how the game on Sunday may play out?

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