Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Baltimore Ravens (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (7-4 SU,
6-4-1 ATS), Week 13 NFL, 8:30 p.m. EST, Monday, December 7, 2009, Lambeau Field,
Green Bay, Wis., TV: ESPN

by Badger of

Point Spread: Ravens +3/Packers -3
Over/Under: 43.5

When the Baltimore Ravens travel north to legendary Lambeau Field to
play the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football this week both teams will be playing under nearly identical circumstances.

Stumble and put your playoff chances on flat-line. Win and live to
fight another day.

Bottom line is that neither team can really afford to lose this late in the race, making it a must-win game for both on Lombardi Avenue in
primetime on ESPN.

At 6-5, the Ravens are tied with Pittsburgh and Jacksonville for what would be the final wild card spot in the AFC. They helped themselves two-fold with last weeks 20-17 overtime victory against the Steelers
on Sunday Night Football, because it not only kept them in the race
but also gave them the early tiebreaker edge over the defending
champs with one more game against the Steelers a few days after

The 7-4 Packers hit the lowest of lows in their loss at Tampa Bay in
early November, but since then they have been great on both sides of
the ball and the end result is a three-game winning streak, including
a 34-12 victory over Detroit on Thanksgiving. The win helped the
Packers climb back into the NFC wild card chase, but with three of
their last four games of the season away from Lambeau the Packers
must seal the deal on Monday against the Ravens if they want to
continue to have a fighting chance.

There are a bunch of sportsbooks that have yet to open this game up on their boards, but the ones that have are listing the Packers as the standard 3-point favorite at home. The Las Vegas Hilton is the
only book with a different point spread, opening the game with Green
Bay as 2.5-point favorites in Lambeau.

The over/under total for this game is a lot like the point spread off the board (at time of print) at a majority of sportsbooks. All of the books in Las Vegas list the total at 44, while the few offshore sportsbooks that
list a total are sitting at 43.5, so the number is moving already and
you should be able to find the half-point if you want it.

After starting out the season with three straight 30-point games (and
three straight wins), the Ravens offense has corrected itself lately
and is starting to look more like the run-orientated outfit we became
accustomed to last season scoring 23.4 points per game (12th).

Second-year quarterback Joe Flacco has seen his interception total of
eight keep closer to his touchdown total of 13, so the Ravens seem to
have reeled in passing attack of late, but they still throw it for
235.8 yards a game (13th). Ray Rice has emerged as the Ravens top
running back (over 150 combined yards last week), which has allowed
the offense to balance the run-pass load that was so pass-heavy early
in the season.

Baltimore will be playing against a Packers defense that on the
surface (i.e. statistically) is currently the best unit in the NFL,
ranked 1st overall (281.5 ypg) with the 4th-best tally against the
run and the 7th-best against the pass. But the Packers will allow big
plays (19.5 ppg 12th) and are playing the rest of the year without
shutdown corner Al Harris and end/linebacker Aaron Kampman. Neither
player was missed that much last week, but remember it was the Lions.

Dont be surprised if the Ravens offensive game plan calls for runs
at LB Brad Jones (Kampmans replacement), and throws toward Tramon
Williams (Harris replacement) and nickel-back Jarrett Bush
(Williams replacement in the nickel) to try and take advantage of
the backups pressed into duty.

Green Bays offense has been hitting on all cylinders the last few
weeks, putting up 30 points on San Francisco the week before they
scored 34 points on the Lions on Thanksgiving, to run their season
average to 26.9 points per game (6th).

Aaron Rodgers threw for 348 and three touchdowns last week against
Detroit to go over 3,000 for the season. His 22-to-5 touchdown-to-
interception ratio is impressive, so is his 104.9 passer rating, and
when you consider hes put together this type of season despite being
sacked nearly 50 times it makes it all that more impressive.

What will be interesting to see is how well the Packers running game
does against the Ravens defense. The Ravens defense is not what it
once was, but they still hold opponents to just 97.6 yards on the
ground (6th) and are really strong in the red zone (17.1 ppg 5th).
Theyve held the Steelers and Colts to just 17 points each the past
two weeks, and allowed a total of 14 in the three weeks prior, so
they are certainly peaking at the right time.

These two teams last met in between the lines back in December of
2005, in what turned into a 48-3 route by the Ravens in Baltimore.
Kyle Boller had his best day as a Raven (253 yds., 3 TD) and Brett
Favre had one of his worst (144 yds., 2 INT) as the Packers got
hammered in a game that the Ravens were only favored by 3.5-points.

But otherwise this head-to-head series has been all Packers through
the years, with Green Bay holding a 5-2 SU lifetime edge as well as a
5-2 ATS advantage too. Only two of the previous seven meetings were
at Lambeau Field (2001 and 1998), both ending as straight-up wins and
covers for the Packers.

Baltimore has been strong on the road of late, going 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games away from home.

The other really strong betting trend is favoring a bet on the over,
as the over is 8-2 in Baltimores last 10 games on Monday Night
Football, as well as 13-6 in the Packers last 19 home games overall.

Badgers Pick: It will be interesting to watch the line movement in
this game during the week. The Packers are one of the publics
favorite teams to bet on, so its already set higher for that reason,
and if it continues to move up than a play on the Ravens looks
enticing. Even with two strong defenses on the field, I still feel
theres too much big-play potential on both teams to keep this game
under the total. Take the over of 43.5.