The Ravens and Patriots have developed a potent rivalry over the past decade, with multiple playoff meetings and still-lingering suspicion in New England that Baltimore instigated #Deflategate.
This year, the game lacks some sizzle, because the Patriots for the first time in a long time lack the skill to contend with the best teams in the league. Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who leads one of the best teams in the league, nevertheless remains leery.
“They’re the Patriots,” Harbaugh told PFT after last week’s road win over the Colts. “They’re the New England patriots. They’re coached by Bill Belichick. They’re smart and they have tremendous character. Cam Newton is talented. We’re just gonna have to play our best football. The thing I’m gonna keep focusing on is just playing winning football. You do that [in] all three stages, and we’re gonna win games. That’s all we need to do.
“And we’re young. It’s hard sometimes for young teams to learn how to win in this league. We’re a lot younger than people think we are. That’s something I think that guys kind of have to learn from experience. I include Lamar [Jackson] in that. Lamar is a young player.”
In 2019, when Lamar was a year younger, the Ravens ended New England’s 8-0 start to the season. It was one of many significant wins last year, as Baltimore turned a 2-2 start into a 14-2 finish.
It’s amazing that, in just a year, the ultimate challenge for the Ravens has become a potential trap game. As traps go, few coaches know how to set them like Belichick. So, yes, it makes sense for Harbaugh to be leery.