Will offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell have continued success against Bill Belichick and the Patriots? Joe Flacco and Tom Brady meet again, but who has the edge?
You do know, I hope, that history means NOTHING in this weeks game. Please, no more “expert” predictions.
This will be a total blowout by half…
I will preface this by saying I am a Patriots fan. Not saying the Patriots will lose, but I am giving it a coins flip chance, not the 9+ point Vegas odds (anyone else laying down serious coin on this bet?). Anyway, here is why the game is so close.
1. Tom Brady, like any other quarterback, is not the same passer when pressured. The Ravens can bring pressure.
2. The Ravens can also cover, forcing Brady to go through multiple reads and hold on to the ball longer. Leads to point #1.
3. The loss of Gronk is huge. He is a matchup nightmare, and close to un-coverable. Taking away one of the top 3 players from Patriots is a serious blow. Yeah, the Patriots will roll out the “next guy up” theory, but the next guy isn’t half as talented.
4. Smith + Boldin > Talib + Dennard. I know the Pats D has improved, but I can easily see the Ravens receivers making catch after catch.
5. Flacco is one of the most under-rated deep ball passer in the league. Everyone knows about his arm strength, few admit to his touch and accuracy. See point 4.
6. Take all the previous points and it says the Patriots won’t score as many points as usual and the Ravens will score a bit more. Bottom line is Ravens can match the Pats score-for-score.
7. Coaching. Yes Belicheck is McD are great (how do you make on-the-fly adjustments and score 41 points when your entire gameplan is flushed down the toilet with two key injuries in 5 plays?). However, Harbaugh and co have put together pretty good game plans of their own. And the are very familiar with the Patriots, so it is unlikely that BB & BB will run anything that Harbaugh cannot counter.
8. Experience. The basically comes down to a young Pats defense that is likely to blow an assignment a few times during the game. The Ravens D has been on the same page for too long. No freebies will be handed out.
9. Better kicking. In a game that is likely to be decided by a field goal, the Ravens don’t have to worry about 31-yard shanks.
10. Ray. He has defined the ravens for close to two decades. The team is playing for something bigger than themselves or their next contract. This is an emotional game and these things do have an impact.
11. Way to much time on your hands
I think one key to the Ravens D this time around is to have two Strong Safeties in at the same time. Make Ihedigbo
(or preferrably) Pollard play the nickle for help with the run game and to control some of the YAC after the quick hits Brady likes to go for. Just keep Reed and Ihedigbo back in coverage.
It’s tempting to say that missing Lardarius this time around is a killer, but Corey Graham is playhighing at a very high level.
On the flip side, unlike the Texans the Ravens with Torrey Smith are absolutely lethal in the deep ball. If you shade his way, the kickreturn speedster in Jacoby will make you pay. If you drop two safeties Anquan Boldin and the two crafty TEs Ozzie opted for instead of Gronk and Hernandez will dink-n-dunk you for YAC. Then you’ve always got to account for lil Ray and Pierce the bruiser.
I’m not sure who was smokin somethin strong when they cooked up that 9 point spread, but they need to re-assess the challenges facing Bellichick and his bunch this week.
It’s tempting to say that missing Lardarius this time around is a killer, but Corey Graham is playing at a very high level.
We may have a nasty rivalry with the Steelers, but this is one takes the cake over the past few years. Every Ravens/Pats matchup always comes down the wire. Always my favorite matchup of the year whether its regular or post season.
Looking forward to an amazingly agonizing game on sunday.
Nice post reed20fence!
Its nice to have a rational rival fan posting their thoughts in such a way!
I think the Patriots are the team most capable of blowing any other team out of the water in todays NFL – certainly the stats back that up.
This is why you tend to get such large spreads when New England is playing.
I think you perhaps over-simplify the defensive job that the Ravens have on their hands on Sunday – Ray Lewis is going to be a huge liability in coverage – I don’t particularly rate any of the other LBers or safeties in coverage – Ihedigbo is a big tryer but should be ST’s only.
Definitely agree that the Flacco to Torrey Smith deep ball is going to be a potentially huge play – the Patriots I think will definitely roll safety coverage (most likely McCourty) to help their as ‘kick returner’ Jacoby Jones has nowhere near the talent or consistency of T. Smith.
Should be a great game.
The Pats will have to problem scoring in this game, the question is can the Ravens keep up with them? This is not the same Pat’s D they saw at the beginning of the season and these are not the replacement refs either. There won’t be any phantom holding calls on Spikes in this game. Although if they officiate the same way they did last weekend in Gillette than maybe there will be?
When will Lewis finally come clean? It was Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24 that were murdered either by him or his friends, and at a minimum he covered it up and lied for them.
The 9.5 pt spread is pretty amusing, especially considering that the only recent matchup between these two teams that has not been a 3 or 4 pt victory for the winning side was when the RAVENS absolutely demolished the Patriots in the playoffs in January ’10. At least a 7 pt spread for the Patriots would have been semi-reasonable, no one is denying the Ravens are underdogs but apart from special teams coverage, they looked a lot better than ten point underdogs in beating the Broncos.
The Ravens are playing for something bigger right now. I hope they pull of the W in Foxborough.
Gronk is an unstoppable juggernaut. Losing him is a huge blow that adds to my hope. Odds makers don’t take things like that into account. Without him the red zone becomes a little easier to defend. Raven’s secondary will play deep routes tight, pressure on Brady will force Hernandez to stay back and block and the dump offs MIGHT then be controllable to Welker and Edelman.
Wait Edelman is on IR, so it is stopping Welker then.
Fourth & 26 conversions, Denver Safeties flailing @ 70-yd desperation heaves, Joe Flacco is playing great, blah blah blah. The ugly black birds endless luck ends in Foxboro: Pats light them up 42-28.
I thought the same thing…now I’m starting to wonder if it’s luck or just making plays. these two teams match up well should be a great game.
I think Pitta makes the difference…Ravens win by 4
I think Brady makes the difference, Pats win by seven.
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