Ravens and Pack Battling for Wildcard Spots on MNF

Ryan MetivierContributor IDecember 7, 2009

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball towards the center of the hashmarks in overtime to help set up the winning kick  against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

The Ravens and Packers will square off at Lambeau field tonight in the first meeting between these teams since 2005 when the Ravens ran away with a 48-3 victory. Each team comes into tonight’s game ranked second in their divisions and in a tight race for a Wildcard spot in order to make the postseason. At 6-5 the Ravens are far in the rear view mirror of the division leading 9-3 Bengals, as are the 7-4 Packers, who trail the 10-2 Vikings.


Baltimore got off to a hot start this year with three straight wins but then followed that up with three losses and have now alternated wins and losses for the past five weeks. Should their recent form continue, Baltimore may be in for a struggle tonight as they are coming off an impressive 20-17 overtime win over the Steelers last week. The Packers somewhat stumbled out of the gate but recently have been strong in reeling off three consecutive wins. That being said, their last two wins have come against the Lions and 49ers, two of the more underwhelming teams in the league. Despite ranking near the middle to upper portion of the league it could be argued that both of these teams have underperformed and could look better than they actually are. Neither has played the most challenging of schedules and for the Ravens only two of their six wins have come against teams with winning records, while only one of the Green Bay’s seven wins have fallen into that category.


Statistically both squads enter this game on a fairly equal playing field. The Ravens rank 13th in passing and 14th in rushing offence, while Green Bay comes in at 8th and 13th in those same categories. Defensively the Pack hold an edge, albeit slight. The Ravens are 12th vs. the pass and 6th vs. the rush, compared to Green Bay’s 6th and 4th rankings respectively. Where the Ravens may have an edge though could be in their ability to get to QB Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have had trouble protecting Rogers all year as evidenced by their league-worst 32nd ranking in sacks allowed. Baltimore comes in ranked 11th in sacks and could give Rodgers a long day at the office.


The Packers offensive line is already not one of the strongest and they are now down two guards. Jason Spitz is on the IR with a back injury and T.J. Lang is questionable with a concussion. Other members of the line, Chad Clifton and Allen Barbre are also nursing injuries but are listed as probable.


The Ravens has been taking some hits of their own with CBs Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle done for the year. Last week LBs Terrell Suggs and Prescott Burgess also suffered injuries which may keep them out of this game. Despite this, over the last five weeks Baltimore’s defence has been coming on and has moved up from 19th to 10th in the league.


Books opened this game as Green Bay -2.5 point favorites and the line has seen some action on the favourite by moving it up to -3.5 at some shops. The public is pretty much split on the game with 53% of public money coming in on the Pack. There is also a 60% chance of snow for the game Monday night. Neither team has been much to get excited about this year but the Ravens improving defence could be enough to keep this one close. Opening this game around -3 obviously means bookmakers think these teams are close in skill level and I would have to agree. Thing is Baltimore has more than enough talent to get to Aaron Rodgers and make him rush some of his throws and make bad decisions. The Packers don’t overwhelm many teams and actually quite often let you down when you expect the most out of them. The Ravens should keep this one close and could definitely win outright, so playing them at +3.5 seems to be the prudent play.