Game preview: Five questions for Packers at Ravens

Game preview: Five questions for Packers at Ravens
October 11, 2013, 9:15 am
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What are the keys to success for Ravens against Packers?

Game preview

What: Packers at Ravens

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M & T Bank Stadium

TV: FOX

Five questions for Packers at Ravens

1. How often can the Ravens’ pass rush get to Aaron Rodgers?

This could be the key to the game. Rodgers is good enough to take over. So is the Ravens’ pass rush, which is second in the NFL with 19 sacks. Rodgers has a quick release and is nimble in the pocket. However, even when the Ravens don’t sack him, they want to disrupt Rodgers’ rhythm and make his completions more difficult. A big day by Rodgers could mean a bad day for the Ravens. A great day for linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumevil could mean a Ravens victory.

2. How badly will Packers tight end Jermichael Finley hurt the Ravens?

The Packers have a dynamic trio at wide receiver in Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb. However, tight ends have worked over the Ravens. Julius Thomas of the Broncos had five catches, 110 yards, and two touchdowns in Week 1. Jordan Cameron of the Browns had five catches for 95 yards in Week 2. Charles Clay of the Dolphins had a touchdown catch against the Ravens last week. Finley has caught 17 passes for two touchdowns this season – good production for someone targeted just 22 times. Rodgers knows the Ravens have had trouble covering tight ends, and may look for Finley often, particularly in the red zone.

3. Can the Packers generate a pass rush without linebacker Clay Matthews?

Matthews, one of the game’s best edge rushers, is out with a thumb injury. Ravens running back Ray Rice will not miss having to block Matthews on blitzes. “He’s a game-wrecker,” Rice said. “You get that kind of guy coming off the edge, it reminds you of our guy, No. 55 (Terrell Suggs).” Linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring) is also out for the Packers, meaning Jamari Lattimore will make his first NFL start. Lattimore is no Matthews. If the Packers’ pass rush fizzles, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco won’t get banged around like he did against the Dolphins, and could have a big game.

4. Will Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy be a difference maker?

With James Starks still out (knee injury), Lacy will be the Packers’ featured back Sunday. He had 99 yards rushing against the Lions in Week 5, and the Packers’ ground attack is much improved compared to recent seasons. “I think this year we’re changing some of those preconceptions about us,” Rodgers said. “We’re in the top five in the league in rushing yards, and Eddie was a yard away from being our third different 100-yard back this year. That says a lot about our offensive line and the way they’re blocking.” The Ravens gave up 203 yards rushing against the Bills, and cannot afford to get gashed by the Packers. Stopping Rodgers becomes even more difficult when he has a consistent running game for support.

5. How well will Eugene Monroe play at left tackle?

Monroe is expected to make his Ravens’ debut, replacing Bryant McKinnie. Monroe has been working overtime to learn the offense since being traded to the Ravens last week. However, live action is always different than the practice field and the film room. Monroe must avoid two things – played tentatively, and making a mental mistake that leads to a sack. But a strong game by Monroe would help Flacco, and potentially give the running game a boost.