Tonight the 7-5 Baltimore Ravens travel into Foxborough to take on the 10-2 New England Patriots. This game has huge playoff implications for both teams so let’s look at the keys in this game.
Ravens defense vs Patriots Defense:
This Ravens defense is playing at an extremely high level. They have been the reason for the Ravens success this season and have the stats to prove it.
Points: 17.2( 1st tied with Patriots)
Total Yards: 296.1(1st )
Passing Yards: 222.2(7th)
Rushing Yards: 73.8(1st)
*Numbers in parenthesis are rank within the NFL
As you can tell this Ravens team is no slouch on the defensive end.This Patriots defense is nothing to sneeze either. Let’s see how this Patriots defense stacks up against the Ravens defense.
Points: 17.2(2nd(tied with Ravens))
Total Yards: 337.2(9th)
Passing Yards: 243(13th)
Rushing Yards: 94.2(8th)
As you can tell both teams have elite defenses. This game very well could be decided by one of these defense and both need to play at their best. Whichever team does a better job at getting to the Quarterback and forcing turnovers will give their team a huge advantage.
Who is going to step up for the Patriots?:
The Patriots have dealt with a multitude of injuries this season but none bigger then the loss of Gronk for the year. With Gronk out they lost their best weapon on offense outside of Tom Brady. Danny Amendola is also down tonight which makes them even thinner on offense. They are going to need not only Blount to step up but the rest of this Patriots receiving core. They will lean on Edelman and Bennett for production in the passing game and also need production from young stud Malcom Mitchell.(17 receptions, 222 yards, 3 touchdowns over the last three games) If the Patriots can’t find anyone to step up and help Brady and Blount they have little chance to win this game.
Which Joe Flacco will we see?
To my amazement Flacco has had great personal success against Brady. Flacco has thrown 16 Touchdowns to 10 interceptions in those games and held a passer rating of 91.3. Decent numbers for a quarterback who is about as unpredictable as they come. If Flacco wants to beat the Patriots, then they need to show some signs of life on offense. They have one of the league’s worst run games and Flacco has turned over the ball a fair share this year. To beat this Patriots team Flacco and company need to find some sort of rhythm on offense and take care of the football. If Flacco plays at his best, then they have a real shot at winning this game.
What the Patriots need to do to win:
Look the Patriots have been here before. Injured, people counting them out and they have come out and proved those people wrong. Although they are depleted offensively they still have Tom Brady behind center and Bill Belichick coaching for this team. They need to balance their offense and find a way to manufacture points against an elite Ravens defense. LeGarrette Blount has had himself a very nice season and leads the league in rushing touchdowns(13 Td’s) and has played like one of the league’s best running backs. For the Patriots to win this game they need Blount to have a great game. If he can pound this defense and control the pace of the game they will be able to produce points against the Ravens. I doubt he rushes for more than 100 yards but the Patriots are going to need him to score. As I talked about above this defense also is going to be put to the test tonight. This Ravens team isn’t amazing offensively but if you let them get going they can hurt you. Joe Flacco in rhythm can be as dangerous as anyone in the league. If they can force Flacco to turn the ball over and are efficient offensively they will have no problem beating the Ravens.
What the Ravens need to do to win:
It’s simple if you are the Ravens you need to keep this game close. Tom Brady and this Patriots team are talented and can put up points if you aren’t careful. The Ravens need to make this game ugly and put pressure on Brady. In the past we have seen that the formula to beat Brady is getting to him and keeping pressure on him all game. This is a formula that the Ravens can follow and need to if they want to win. I already talked about what they need to do on the offense in the above section so I’ll just summarize it again. Basically they need great Flacco to show up tonight. They will not beat the Patriots if Flacco can’t get this offense to put up points.
Although I think this game is going to be close I still feel that the Patriots are going to be too much for the Ravens.
Score Prediction: Patriots win 28-24