5 Bold Predictions for Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 Matchup
The Ravens defense led the effort with six sacks on opposing quarterback Ryan Tannehill, including a late Elvis Dumervil sack that backed up Miami five yards, leading to a missed 57-yard field goal by rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Week 6 features the Green Bay Packers traveling to M&T Bank Stadium in a game that both teams need to maintain momentum in a logjammed division. The Packers are off to a 2-2 start, which puts them third in the NFC North.
Joe Flacco has not played anything like his Super Bowl MVP performance last year, completing only 57.7 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and eight interceptions so far this season. The Ravens signal-caller has a passer rating of 70.1, which ranks 28th in the NFL.
Let's take a look at five bold predictions for the Ravens in their upcoming matchup against the Packers.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.
Bernard Pierce Breaks a 40-Plus-Yard Run
Bernard Pierce has shouldered a heavier workload this season with a hip injury to Ray Rice, carrying the ball 67 times for 197 yards.
Even with a healthy Rice in the contest against the Miami Dolphins, where Rice racked up 74 yards and two touchdowns, Pierce averaged 4.2 yards on 11 carries, including a long of 28 yards.
The challenge for the Ravens ground attack will be that the Green Bay Packers have allowed just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt this season, ranking them seventh in the NFL.
With the absence of Clay Matthews (broken thumb), expect for Pierce to offer a good change-of-pace from Rice during this game, with the potential for a long run that could push 40 yards.
Matthews has been the fifth-best linebacker for a 3-4 run defense in the NFL, via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
James Ihedigbo Records First Career Interception
Despite six seasons in the NFL, including stints with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, safety James Ihedigbo has never collected an interception. He has started all five games for the Baltimore Ravens this year with four passes defended, but has yet to pull in that elusive turnover.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Ihedigbo grades out as the third-best safety in the NFL. His run defense has been superior to his pass defense, although he holds a respectable 61.5 percent completion ratio of passes in his coverage area.
Opposing quarterback Aaron Rodgers has stumbled the past two weeks, posting just two touchdowns with two interceptions. Considering the pressure the Ravens defense should put on Rodgers all day, Ihedigbo could be the beneficiary of his first career interception.
Torrey Smith Hauls in Two Receiving Touchdowns
Torrey Smith had an impressive showing against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5, posting six receptions and 121 yards. His 556 receiving yards rank third only behind Jimmy Graham (593) and Julio Jones (580).
However, even with those solid numbers, Smith has only made it into the end zone once all season, scoring on a 26-yard pass in the loss against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.
The shortage in touchdowns for Smith won't continue all season, and a game against the Green Bay Packers is a great opportunity to break out. The defense, led by Dom Capers, has allowed the sixth-highest percentage of touchdowns per passing attempts (6.1 percent) in the NFL.
Chris Canty Leads Team in Sacks
After the league-leading performance by linebacker Terrell Suggs in Week 5, sacking Ryan Tannehill three times, it seems preposterous to predict another defender to outshine the All-Pro veteran.
However, Chris Canty has an excellent opportunity to succeed against the Green Bay Packers with the attention now squarely placed on Suggs. Considering his 7.0 sacks on the season, it's unlikely the coaching staff will develop a game plan that allows Suggs to beat them.
Canty has 2.0 sacks on the season, despite limited snaps compared to other defensive ends in a 3-4 defense. For example, J.J. Watt has 4.0 sacks this season with 299 snaps, compared with 159 for Canty, via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The other piece of motivation for Canty will be that the Packers passed on the former New York Giant this past offseason over concerns about his knee, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Expect Canty to show the front office in Green Bay what they missed out on.
Ravens Pull off Upset with Last-Second Field Goal
Although the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens are hosting the Green Bay Packers at home, they are listed as the underdog in the upcoming matchup, per OddsShark.com, via Yahoo! Sports.
After a pedestrian performance by the Packers against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field—however, they did pull away to win 22-9 after leading 6-3 at halftime—this Week 6 contest should prove to be a more entertaining affair.
Justin Tucker was the difference in the Ravens 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins the previous week, kicking a 44-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining in the game.
The margin of victory for either team will be razor-thin, with turnovers and special teams the likely game-changers. Tucker was 4-of-4 in field goal attempts last week, including a long of 50 yards.
The Ravens kicker's only two misses this season both came against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, attempts from 50 and 44 yards, respectively. Tucker appears to have put those kicks behind him, good news for Ravens fans who will likely be cheering for his strong leg in the waning seconds of this game.
Matthew Stensrud is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.