Will facing NFC North be good or bad for Ravens?

Will facing NFC North be good or bad for Ravens?
May 27, 2013, 9:30 am
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter of the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park.

(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

The Ravens face the NFC North in 2013, and it is hard for them to complain about the schedule.

Playing the NFC North can mean a frigid December road trip to Green Bay or Chicago. But the Ravens lucked out. The Packers visit Baltimore on Oct. 13, while the Ravens travel to Chicago on Nov. 17, giving them a chance to escape the Windy City before things turn ice cold.

It will be interesting to see if the Ravens continue their dominance at home versus the NFC. The Ravens have won 13 straight home games against NFC teams, dating back to 2006. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers pose a serious threat to that streak, and when the Vikings visit on Dec. 8, the Ravens’ run defense figures to get a serious test from Adrian Peterson.

Here’s a look at the Ravens 2013 schedule vs. the NFC North, and some of the challenges they could present

Oct. 12 vs. Packers – Rodgers is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, with a strong receiving corps. This could be a baptism for the Ravens’ new-look safety tandem that could feature Michael Huff and rookie Matt Elam as starters. However, by this time, the Ravens expect cornerback Lardarius Webb to be 100 percent, after missing  most of last season with a knee injury.

Nov. 17 at Bears – They have a new coach in Marc Trestman, hired largely due to his reputation as an offensive innovator and quarterback guru. The Bears hope Trestman’s presence pays dividends for quarterback Jay Cutler, who has never performed to his potential on a consistent basis. Even without Brian Urlacher, the Bears still have proven defensive playmakers in Julius Peppers, Clarence Tillman, and Lance Briggs. Not an easy assignment for the Ravens, even if the weather is not an issue.

Dec. 9 vs. Minnesota – Trying to contain Peterson will be priority No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 for the Ravens, who were porous against the run in 2102. Peterson is the ultimate test for any run defense, and it will be interesting to see if the Ravens pass or fail.

Dec. 16 at Lions – A Monday night matchup that should be entertaining. Detroit has added Reggie Bush to its already potent attack, led by wide receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford.  However, the Lions’ defense was awful last season, meaning Joe Flacco and company could have their way. This is the Ravens’ 14th game of the season, so it figures to have postseason implications.

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