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Defending Champion Ravens Catch Points at Home Against Packers

The Baltimore Ravens like to think they got back to basics last week as they took care of business against the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday they will be getting points at home in the NFL betting odds when they play host to the Green Bay Packers. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM ET at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

In the betting lines that have been established for this game at Top Bet, the Packers are laying a point:

Green Bay Packers -3
Baltimore Ravens +3

And here is the NFL total on the game:

Over 49 Points -110
Under 49 Points -110

There was a lot of criticism that came the Ravens’ way after that debacle in Buffalo when they ran it just nine times, and Joe Flacco was intercepted FIVE times on his FIFTY attempts. That was tough to deal with, but it’s not like the Ravens hadn’t been there before. Last season there was also a lot of talk about too much passing and not enough emphasis on using Ray Rice properly. And it led to the switch in offensive coordinators, from Cam Cameron (who’s doing quite well with LSU, thank you) to Jim Caldwell, the former Indianapolis Colts coach.

This was a way of getting back to the basics, and the team responded. Rice had 74 yards rushing and 28 yards in receptions as Baltimore went to Miami and won a 26-23 decision against the Dolphins. If there is a downside to Rice’s involvement, it’s the fact that he has fumbled five times in the last eight games, including once last Sunday. But he is also a player who has had four straight seasons where he has topped the 1000-yard mark in rushing, so they need him just the same.

And guess what? Against the Dolphins, Flacco was more efficient, averaging 8.4 yards an attempt, with just one interception (you can’t have everything).

It was hard to gauge Green Bay’s performance in last week’s 22-9 win over Detroit because the Lions had to go without Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. And they were a little flat getting out of the starting gate against a team that hadn’t beaten them at Lambeau Field since 1991. They did, however, outgain Detroit by 163 yards, and they got some great production from a source they were hoping to get it form. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy came back from an injury and gained 99 yards for them, helping the Pack win the time of possession battle. And Aaron Rodgers only had to throw the ball 30 times, which was his lowest figure of the season.

We know that Baltimore, despite its loss of key players on defense (namely Ray Lewis) in the off-season, has managed to remain a very tough team against the run, allowing just 3.5 yards a pop. But we also know that Rodgers is one of those quarterbacks who, unlike Flacco, can be successful is push comes to shove and he has to rely almost exclusively on the pass. So if the Ravens stiffen up things at the line of scrimmage, will that make it easier for them to win the game?

We’re not so sure.

We DO know, however, that the Packers (the -145 money line favorite at Top Bet) are going to be somewhat handicapped on defense. Clay Matthews, the best pass rusher they have and a bona fide Pro BHowler, broke his thumb and is going to miss at least a month of action. And the team is thin at linebacker. It could be that the Ravens will be able to sustain their attack if they can balance it.

And Baltimore nose tackle Hagoti Ngata, who has been bothered greatly by a sore hip, which caused him to miss some practice this week, is very likely to make the start on Sunday, and if he truly is good enough to contribute, he is a stabilizing presence in the middle of that defensive line.

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