The Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens will each play their second game of the NFL preseason Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium with both teams looking to stay unbeaten. The Packers edged the Houston Texans in their preseason opener, 28-26, while the Ravens dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 29-0.
Green Bay has one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers, but there are a lot of changes going on around him, notably a new head coach in Matt LaFleur. Baltimore is looking to just tweak some things and improve around second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is going into the season as the starter for the first time in his pro career.
The moneyline on this contest has the Green Bay Packers +165 and the Baltimore Ravens -185. The over/under is 37, and the Ravens are favored by 3.5 points.
Rodgers played only seven snaps in the preseason last year, but that was under long-time coach Mike McCarthy. He’ll play more than that in one quarter of this game as he tries out LaFleur’s offense for the first time. Rodgers will likely play a quarter or so before giving way to backups DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle, who combined for three touchdown passes in the win over the Texans last week.
One player who won’t be on the field is running back Aaron Jones, who recently came back from a hamstring injury. The Packers’ defense will be trying to improve from last week’s performance that saw Houston put up 412 yards with starter Deshaun Watson on the bench. Losing a leader like Clay Matthews in the offseason hurts, but Green Bay must find some players that can make plays defensively or it’s going to be a long season.
Jackson played three series in the Ravens’ preseason opener, driving the team to 10 points during his time on the field. Coach John Harbaugh isn’t going to push things with his quarterback, seeing that Jackson likes to run the ball when he gets into trouble, and the Ravens can ill afford to lose him to injury. Look for him to play just a couple of series before giving way to rookie Trace McSorley, who is fighting for a job behind Jackson and the injured Robert Griffin III.
The Baltimore defense looked in midseason form in the win over Jacksonville, holding the Jaguars to 112 total yards. It did help that Nick Foles didn’t play in the game, but the performance was certainly a confidence boost for Baltimore. Fullback/defensive lineman Patrick Ricard made his case for playing both ways in the game, recording two sacks among his four tackles.
Baltimore Wins Again
The Ravens have not dropped a preseason game since 2015, winning 14 straight. A big reason is the Baltimore defense brings it no matter who is on the field, which is what they’ll do again in this one. Rodgers may do well when he’s on the field, but look for Green Bay to struggle after he leaves the game. I’m going with Baltimore -3.5 to extend its preseason winning streak.