By Mario Martinez-Wonder Punter
Green Bay Packers (2-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-2) 10/13 1:00PM EST
Line: GB -2.5
The Green Bay Packers, coming off last week’s victory over Detroit go into Baltimore and look to continue their winning ways and make a move in the NFC Central as they battle the Ravens.
The Packers will be without All-Pro outside linebacker Clay Matthews who broke his right thumb during last Sunday’s game.
Matthews is expected to be out of action for a least a couple of weeks and when he does return may have to wear a cast. He has also been bothered by a hamstring injury and his absence is a big blow to the defense who are looking to re-establish themselves as one of the league’s best and get back into the playoff race.
The fifth-year pro has a team high three sacks this season and has led Green Bay in sacks every year he has been in the league.
“I mean, Clay Matthews is our best player on defense. But this pro football,” Packer’s coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’ve been down this road before. It’s an excellent opportunity for others to step up and make plays.”
Green Bay, who are ranked 26th in the league with 288.8 passing yards allowed per game will rely on linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry to step up make those plays.
“I think Mike Neal has made really good strides. I think you saw him play his best game (Sunday). I think you saw Nick Perry play his best game,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Monday. “We need for Mike Neal and Nick Perry to be ready to play next week the way they played this week. Because they played their best football this week.”
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a big road win from last Sunday when they defeated Miami 26-23 with a strong running game that accounted for a season-best 133 yards. They defense also had six sacks against Miami.
However, the Green Bay defense is strong against the run, so quarterback Joe Flacco may have to go to the air as well to create a balanced attack, but the Raven’s offensive line has given up 14 sacks so far making that game plan that much more of a challenge.
“Joe never gets fazed,” coach John Harbaugh said of Flacco, “He’s not going to get rattled.”
While Baltimore’s offense may be off and on, one consistent element of the Ravens is their defense, who are now led by Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumerville.
The Ravens are second-best in the NFL with 19 sacks, with Suggs having seven of those. Good for fourth-best in the NFL this season. Suggs has an incredible 91½ sacks in his career, making him Baltimore’s best in the sack department.
“I don’t want to be known as a pass rusher. I want to be known as a defender that can do more than just one thing.” Said Suggs. “I don’t wan to just have a lot of sacks. I like to fill up the stat sheet.”
One of the better games on Sunday. Expect both teams to be ready to play their best football, but see the Packers winning a close one on the road.
PICK: Green Bay Packers