If the Ravens have proved anything over the last few years, it’s that they're resilient. They fight through the inevitable turnovers and bad plays of games better than anyone and battle through their schedule no matter the vagaries—the injuries, bad calls, poor performances, etc.—of a 16-game season.
And they’re doing it again. They’re 3-2 and technically leading the AFC North. They’re playing great defense since the opening-season loss at Denver (the Broncos have put up 50 points twice since then so that game doesn’t look so bad in retrospect).
Still, two questions remain. Will the offense get on track this season with new faces on the O-line and in the receiving corps? Can the Ravens still beat elite NFL teams with all their roster changes?
The good news is Packers’ linebacker and pass rusher Clay Matthews is out Sunday, which should help Flacco in the pocket. Also, receiver Marlon Brown and guard Kelechi Osemele are expected to play. New tackle Eugene Monroe might even be ready. The Packers are favored by three points and this game might be a wild affair given Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s elite receivers. But the Ravens have been nearly unbeatable at home. The feeling here is if Flacco, Rice, and company take care of the pigskin, the Ravens will handle the Packers.
Here’s what the experts around the Internet are saying:
Bob McGinn, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoting an anonymous NFL veteran scout:
"I think the Ravens are further along than they thought they would be," the scout said. "They're in transition right now but I think they're starting to get excited.
"They don't have a lot of weapons on offense and they're paying the price, but the Baltimore Ravens organization has always been about defense. The defense is what's carried that team throughout the years. Now their front seven is one of the best in the league."
Shehan Peiris, of Bleacher Report: "The Ravens had their first game with over 100 rushing yards in Week 5, but they only averaged 3.3 yards per carry. They will need to do better than that against a Packers defense that has been very good against the run this year, giving up an average of 86 yards per game on the ground. . . In addition to running the ball, Joe Flacco needs to keep the chains moving on third down. Coming back home to Baltimore may be all they need to improve in that department.
From Russ Dlin, of Press Box: “Wide receivers Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones all average more 81 yards receiving per game and present a defensive nightmare for the Ravens. The Ravens have had a problem with their pass defense this season, allowing 300 yards passing Oct. 6 to Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and allowing more than 400 yards passing Sept. 5 to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.”
Rob Demovsky, Packer team reporter for ESPN: "It might take some time for the Packers to figure out how to play without Clay Matthews. On the road against the defending Super Bowl champions isn't an easy place to start that process. Ravens 24, Packers 23."