The trend continues for the next man up mentality in Green Bay. The Packers lose Clay Matthews for the next month with a broken thumb and won’t have Brad Jones against the Baltimore Ravens because of a hamstring injury. Time to look at how the Packers can pull out the W against the defending Super Bowl champs.
1. Replacements stepping their game up– The Packers didn’t lose one middle linebacker last week against Detroit, they lost two. Brad Jones is out for tomorrow and backup Robert Francois is done for the year after tearing his Achilles. Third string middle linebacker Jamari Lattimore will get a chance to show what he can do with his first NFL start. Mike Neal will also be bumped up to the starting outside linebacker spot for Clay Matthews. Neal has made an impressive transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in just a matter of a few months. He will have to continue making plays in the backfield. Undrafted rookie Andy Mulamba and sixth round pick Nate Palmer have a great opportunity to earn a spot in the linebacker rotation in Matthew’s absence.
2. Pressure Joe Flacco– Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the NFL but the Packers have to take advantage of getting pressure on the least mobile QB they have played in this young season. Flacco has been sacked 14 times this year and thrown 8 picks. Matthews is out so Nick Perry needs to continue playing like he did last week against Detroit.
3. Contain Ray Rice, focus on Torrey Smith– The Packers did an excellent job containing Reggie Bush last week. It also helped that Calvin Johnson didn’t play. Rice is a top five running back in this league and he needs to be the play-maker the Packers focus most of their attention on this Sunday. Torrey Smith is off to an impressive start and with his speed will be a constant threat. However there aren’t any other weapons on this offense the Packers should be too concerned about.
4. Take some shots down the field– Aaron Rodgers was 5-7 for 200 yards and a touchdown last week on throws that traveled 20+ yards in the air. The Ravens run defense is outstanding and ranks sixth in the NFL. This could be a similar showing to a lot of Packers games the last few seasons where Rodgers is slinging it all over the field.