Packers vs. Ravens: Aaron Rodgers Will Beat Joe Flacco in Marquee QB Duel
Thanks to better consistency as a result of chemistry with his superior stable of receivers, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will best the Baltimore Ravens and his reigning Super Bowl MVP counterpart Joe Flacco on Sunday.
The outlook for Baltimore's offense is anything but certain after a couple of rough Flacco performances in a row. First was a five-interception game in Week 4's loss at Buffalo, followed by a mediocre, touchdown-free effort in a narrow victory over the Miami Dolphins last week.
It stands to reason that defenses might be catching up to the style of offense Flacco thrived in amid Baltimore's stunning run to Super Bowl XLVII.
Late in the 2012 season, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired and replaced by Jim Caldwell, who cut Flacco loose. The signal-caller threw 11 touchdowns, no interceptions and posted a 117.2 passer rating in arguably the best postseason by a QB in NFL history.
If Flacco's early form is any indication, opponents seem to be keying in on his tendencies.
Not helping the cause is the absence of last year's go-to target, the departed Anquan Boldin, and the fact that the Ravens are currently the league's No. 27 rushing attack.
The ranking is an appropriate match to Ray Rice's jersey number.
Rice is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry thus far, and Flacco even took it upon himself to log the team's longest run of the day—14 yards—in the win over Miami.
Blocking has also been an issue, though, and it led to a trade for ex-Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe. Even the team's official Twitter couldn't deny the unit's troubles up front during the Dolphins game:
Offensive line continues to struggle. Miami has 2 sacks, 4 QB hits. #Ravens have 15 rushing attempts averaging 2.2 per carry.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 6, 2013
The Ravens enter Week 6 banged up to say the least.
Which quarterback will put up better numbers in Week 6?
Now to finally bring it back to Rodgers and Co.
The Packers' passing offense is as explosive as any in the league, featuring Pro Bowl caliber receivers in Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, along with freak athlete tight end Jermichael Finley.
Rodgers also has superior mobility and can keep plays alive when protection breaks down. He also has a bruising rookie running back to lean on in Eddie Lacy, who carried 23 times for a tough 99 yards in last week's 22-9 win over the NFC North rival Detroit Lions.
While the question regarding Flacco is, "Who is he going to throw it to other than Torrey Smith?" the question concerning Rodgers' outlook is, "Who can't he throw it to?"
That's at least part of the reason Rodgers' passer rating is 105.5 thus far compared to Flacco's grisly 70.1—exaggerated by the five-interception game, to be fair.
Even though this game is on the road for Rodgers, he will get the job done and allow the Packers to keep even with the Lions and Chicago Bears in the loss column in the division.
Prediction: Packers 34, Ravens 24
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