Stats can tell us so many interesting and important things, and help us contextualize what we see in games. The Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers are set to face off in one of the best matchups this week, and game time is set at 1:00 p.m. ET at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Below are some assorted stats on both teams that I found interesting.
1. The Baltimore Ravens have lost both games when Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards, but they also won two games when Flacco threw for under 200. Flacco has been off to a rough start this season with eight interceptions and a completion percentage of just 57.7%, but he did have a really nice game against the Miami Dolphins last week. Playing without Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones (he was expected to return), Flacco had only one legitimate target in Torrey Smith, who once again rose to the occasion and played like a No. 1 receiver. Smith has quieted the doubters, such as myself, who stated coming into the season that Smith isn’t consistent enough to be a No. 1 receiver for the Ravens. He was excellent in a difficult matchup against Brent Grimes, and I would be surprised if he didn’t have another big game this week.
2. Both teams have negative turnover differentials, which means that they have caused more turnovers than they have forced. The Packers have picked off just two passes this season, while the Ravens have picked off only three. On the bright side, Aaron Rodgers has thrown just three interceptions this season.
3. Aaron Rodgers is the most accurate deep passer in the game and is averaging 13.2 yards per completion this season. Jordy Nelson has caught seven of eight of those passes beyond 20 yards. The Ravens safeties have issues in coverage, so something has to give today. Deep passes could be the difference in this one, but both teams should have success throwing it to their star receivers downfield.
4. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil have been downright vicious as pass rushers this year, as Suggs already has seven sacks this season and terrorized Ryan Tannehill last week to the tune of three. Dumervil has been one of the most consistent pass rushers in the league this year, and having two elite pass rushers on either edge is absolutely huge. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have the best offensive line in front of him, but they’ve held up pretty well so far this season.
5. Meanwhile, there is a severe dearth of pass rushing options for the Green Bay Packers, and don’t give me any of that “Dom Capers blitz scheme” stuff either. Clay Matthews will be out this week, and that essentially means that the Packers don’t have a legitimate source of pressure. The Ravens offensive line is set to receive a massive upgrade in Eugene Monroe over Bryant McKinnie, who was awful last week, at left tackle. The Packers need to find a way to put pressure on the Ravens, because they haven’t done a good job of putting pressure on the QB even with Matthews healthy.
6. Terrell Suggs is not only one of the game’s best pass rushers, but he’s also one of the game’s best run defenders. In fact, his run defense is probably better than this pass defense. The Ravens have been extraordinary at stuffing the run this season, and they have one of the top five run defenses in the NFL this year with just 3.4 yards per carry allowed. Eddie Lacy ran for 99 yards last week in his return from health, but getting yards on the ground will be a lot tougher this week.
7. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce make up one of the most talented RB tandems in the NFL, but a hip injury to Rice has helped leave this duo without much bite this year. In fact, they have the second-lowest yards per carry average in the league, with both Rice and Pierce averaging an unprecedented 2.9 YPC each. The run blocking has been atrocious this year, and it seems like only superstar LG Marshal Yanda is pulling his weight. At least McKinnie is out of the picture, and he is one of the worst run blocking tackles in the league; Monroe, on the other hand, is solid.
8. The Packers pass defense is an issue with 7.3 yards per attempt allowed (even including sacks), but their run defense has been excellent this season. They are allowing 3.7 yards per rush, and they can’t let their guards down against the Ravens. Both Rice and Pierce have underperformed this season, but they make up an excellent duo in terms of talent. The run blocking in front of them needs to get better, but I think it will. The Packers big defensive line will create problems for the Ravens OLs, but the Packers obviously have to assume that the Ravens will get things together. I recall a Bill Belichick quote where he basically said, “Why would we prepare for their worst? We have to prepare for their best.” It’s obvious when you think about it.
I have been very impressed by the Green Bay Packers run D this year, and both Brad Jones and Mike Daniels have been incredibly impressive this season against the run. Those two are earning plaudits from Packers fans, and they deserve it. Ryan Pickett is an immovable force, B.J. Raji plugs up holes, and the Packers secondary has done a good job of flowing to the ball. Matthews will be missed in run defense, but the Packers should still be stout due to their size.
Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Baltimore Ravens, Behind The Numbers, Bernard Pierce, Brad Jones, Bryant McKinnie, Clay Matthews, Eddie Lacy, Elvis Dumervil, Eugene Monroe, Green Bay Packers, Joe Flacco, Jordy Nelson, Mike Daniels, Ray Rice, Ryan Pickett, Terrell Suggs, Torrey Smith