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Ravens News 12/16: The Operation and more

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NFL: DEC 12 Ravens at Browns Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mo Gaba Sportsperson Of The Year: Justin Tucker - Bo Smolka

Tucker frequently describes placekicking as “the operation,” and indeed there is a surgical precision to the process. Like music, there is also rhythm to it, a three-part harmony starring long snapper, holder and kicker. The slightest disruption sends the entire composition out of whack.

For nine years, the trio known as “The Wolfpack” — long snapper Morgan Cox, Koch and Tucker — operated in sync. The Ravens moved on from Cox this past year, but Nick Moore has succeeded him, and the operation hasn’t skipped a beat.

Every kick begins the same way: Tucker tamps down the spot for Koch where the ball will be placed, then retreats three steps, extending his right arm straight as a conductor’s baton toward his target line. He makes the sign of the cross as he steps two paces to his left, bends his right leg at the knee, driving his toe into the turf as he again eyes his target line. He gives a nod toward Koch, then a slight hunch of the shoulders. The ball spins back toward Koch, who catches and places the ball, laces forward, on Tucker’s designated spot. As 10 or 11 defenders try to breach the Ravens’ line, Tucker accelerates until his right foot drives through the ball. His right arm extending upward during the follow-through is usually a sign that this kick was pitch-perfect.

On the field and in the community, Bradley Bozeman has stood front and center for the Ravens - Jeff Zrebiec

Bozeman has started every game for the Ravens over the past three seasons and has proven to be one of the most impactful late Day 3 draft picks in franchise history. He was the team’s left guard in 2019 when Lamar Jackson won the NFL MVP award and the team set league rushing records; and again in 2020, when the Ravens led all teams in rushing for a second consecutive season.

Looking to solidify the offensive line this past offseason, the Ravens moved Bozeman to center, the position he played in college, and he’s been a stabilizing presence for an injury-marred group. The 27-year-old has even generated Pro-Bowl buzz.

“He’s just the perfect personality” for the center position, right guard Kevin Zeitler said.

NFL Week 15 Offensive Line Rankings - Sam Monson

20. BALTIMORE RAVENS (DOWN 7)

Best-graded: C Bradley Bozeman | 73.1

Worst-graded: T Tyre Phillips | 54.1

The Ravens have now used 12 offensive linemen this season, yet four of them have played more than 800 snaps across 13 games apiece. Alejandro Villanueva is struggling mightily in pass protection — typically the veteran’s strongest area. He has allowed nine sacks and 48 pressures thus far. That sack figure is tied for the league lead, and the pressure total is the fourth-most of any lineman. Patrick Mekari is one bright spot, as he has allowed just 17 pressures across 10 games and 330 pass-blocking snaps.

Ravens WR Rashod Bateman believes he scored first TD vs. Browns; Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ‘one of the best ever’ - Ryan McFadden

Harbaugh had high praise for Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers, calling him one of the best quarterbacks ever.

“He’s just one of the best ever, no doubt about it,” Harbaugh said. “Simply put, one of the best ever to play quarterback.”

The Ravens’ defense will be busy trying to contain Rodgers. When watching the Packers play, Harbaugh said you can see Rodgers’ fingerprints all over the offense. The two-time MVP threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-30 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

“He runs the offense,” Harbaugh said. “It’s got a lot of classic West Coast elements that have been in Green Bay for years. He understands where to go with the ball. He’s accurate, he’s timely. He just operates the type of passing offense they run and he runs really well.”

Week 15: Ravens Vs. Packers Preview, Where to Watch, Prediction - Todd Karpovich

The Packers defense has been dominant and is ranked ninth against both the run (105.2 ypg) and pass (218.5 ypg). Green Bay has a solid pass rush led by Preston Smith (7 sacks) and Rashan Gary (6 sacks). The secondary is led by Rasul Douglas, who has three interceptions. The Ravens have averaged 23.4 points per game, which is tied for 16th in the league. Baltimore has struggled to adapt to a Cover 0 defensive scheme, so look for the Packers to follow suit. Baltimore will need to attack Green Bay with some intermediate passes to loosen up its front seven.

Aaron Rodgers is having another stellar season, throwing for 3,219 yards with 27 touchdowns and four interceptions. However, he is hampered by a fractured toe and will not be mobile. The Ravens will need to keep him under pressure to stop him from constantly attacking their injury-marred secondary. Rodgers’ favorite target is Davante Adams, who has 1,204 yards receiving with seven touchdowns. The Packers running attack has been mostly solid with A.J. Dillon (614 yards rushing) and Aaron Jones (599). The key for the Ravens will be to contain Rodgers or it could be a long afternoon.

Prediction

Packers 32, Ravens 24

NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 15: Packers rip Ravens; Chiefs, Bucs get revenge; 49ers roll - Vinnie Iyer

Game of the Week: Packers (-5.5, 43.5 o/u) at Ravens

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Packers get a break here against a depleted pass defense for Aaron Rodgers to attack and Aaron Jones can also have good versatile success out of the backfield. The Ravens like to blitz, but know they will be cooked trying that.vs. Rodgers and creating a lot of favorable one-on-ones. Baltimore’s offense may not have Lamar Jackson on the other side to combat an active Green Bay defense. Tyler Huntley can make the Ravens competitive again, but the defense is becoming a bigger problem than offense.

Pick: Packers win 27-20 and cover the spread.