Monday, December 7, 2009

2009 Week #13 - Packers v. Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are without two of their key players on defense Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed. Since I have a ton of family from Cleveland I thought about going on a long rant about how shady it is that Baltimore stole their franchise from Cleveland after experience that same heartache in the mid-1980's but I don't want to bring any negative energy in the game. As a result I will give you a quick look at the top 10 players that will face the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football:

#10 - Dawan Landry (SS): he has the second most tackles on the team (60) and would not have made the list unless Suggs and Reed were inactive against Green Bay so let's just move on.

#9 - Matt Birk (C): left the Minnesota Vikings this offseason for more guaranteed money and is probably regretting that decision. When Birk signed with the Baltimore Ravens he did not know Brett Favre would come out of retirement to help turn Minnesota into one of the best teams in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens are a potential playoff team but not nearly as impressive as the Minnesota Vikings. Birk is no longer in his prime but he gives Baltimore a quality veteran presence on an otherwise very young but impressive offensive line.

#8 - Jarret Johnson (OLB): although he does not receive as much hype as other players on the talented Baltimore Ravens defense, Johnson leads the team in sacks (6). Quietly Johnson is becoming one of he most indispensable players on the Baltimore Ravens defense.

#7 - Derrick Mason (WR): he is never the biggest or fastest receiver in the NFL but the cagey veteran still produces on the field. As Baltimore's clear #1 wide receiver, Mason runs very crisp routes and catches almost everything thrown in his direction. Mason has been such a safety valve for quarterback Joe flacco that coaches started to force Flacco to look for receivers other than Mason.

#6 - Joe Flacco (QB): after a stellar rookie season in 2008 (lead Baltimore to the AFC Championship where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers) his sophomore campaign has been up and down. Flacco has not missed any games this season but battled injuries all season.

#5 - Jared Gaither (LT): an absolute physical freak at 6'9" and 340 pounds. Gather has battled some injuries this season but when fully healthy is a top tier left tackle. Gather's combination of height, weight and athleticism makes you question if he is in fact human.

#4 - Michael Oher (RT): the centerpiece of a national best seller (The Blind Side by Michael Lewis) and the top grossing movie at the box office over the weekend (you guessed it...The Blind Side), Oher is one of the most promising young offensive tackles in the NFL (along with Jake Long and Joe Thomas). Baltimore selected Oher with the 23rd pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and is fighting with Percy Harvin (selected 22nd by the Minnesota Vikings) for offensive rookie of the year.

#3 - Ray Lewis (MLB): one of the best middle linebackers to ever play the game. Lewis is known for his pre-game trash talking and punishing hits on the field but it is his work ethic off the field that has helped shaped the Baltimore Ravens defense for the last decade. Lewis is known to watch more film than anyone else in the NFL which has allowed him to still play at a high level despite losing a step.

#2 - Haloti Ngata (DT): one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL, Ngata routinely faces double teams and still makes plays. In three of the last four weeks Green Bay has faced some of the best nose tackles in the NFL Franklin (San Francisco), Ratliff (Dallas) and Nagata (Baltimore).

#1 - Ray Rice (RB): selected one spot before the now departed Brian Bhrom, Rice has established himself as an every down multi-dimensional running back. Rice is a punishing runner (similar to Ahman Green in his prime) that has forced defenses to account for him at all times. Rice is second in the league in yards from scrimmage behind the presumptive #1 pick in almost every 2010 fantasy draft and modern day version of Barry Sanders - Chris Johnson of the Tennesee Titans.

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