11//3/19 Ravens vs. Patriots
After a much-needed bye week the Ravens return home to play the undefeated New England Patriots who have mowed down their competition through the first 8 weeks of the season. Belichick’s defense is putting together historic numbers and they are on pace to have one of the best defenses in NFL history. That said, they have played only one team with a winning record, and in fact the combined record of their opponents is 14 wins and 44 losses which is a paltry .318 winning percentage. Except for the Buffalo game – it is safe to say that the Patriots have not really been tested much this season. What does get my attention statistically – is that the Patriots are plus 17 in the turnover category and they lead the league in quarterback sacks – and just about every other category for that matter. Even with subpar competition on the other side of the ball, by any measure these are impressive numbers and something that should give concern to the Ravens offense. Their secondary is perhaps the best in the league.
What makes the Patriots such a successful team is that they have Brady under center and they have the best head coach in the NFL preparing them each Sunday. It is no secret that Coach Belichick game plans to neutralize your best offensive weapon, and you have to concede that he is very good at it. Lamar Jackson will likely have his hands full dealing with the pressure and tenacity of the Patriots defense. Belichick is going to try and take away Lamar’s run game. I would expect to see eight to ten in the box to stop the run, as well as having a spy on Lamar to keep him from running free. Belichick is going to make Lamar beat him with his arm. Personally, I can’t wait to watch this game to see how Belichick works to stop Lamar from running effectively. If Belichick does stop Lamar on the ground it will unfortunately show the rest of league how to go about it, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
The Ravens are excited to play the Patriots and they don’t won’t have any fear when they face them Sunday evening. They have played them well over the years and the Patriots know that they will be in a fight. This is Lamar’s first time playing against the Patriots so that will provide a new twist to the contest. For the record, Belichick has won 24 straight games when he has faced a quarterback under the age of 24 – so if Lamar wins Sunday, he will break a 24-game winning streak for the Hoody.
The Patriots offense is looking average this year and offensive statistics bear this out, but Brady is still very good even at 42. The key for the Ravens defense is to get Brady out of the pocket and on the move. If Williams and Pierce can get some push up the middle it would disrupt Brady’s ability to step up into the pocket as well as clog up some of the throwing lanes. Brady’s favorite play is hitting Edelman running on a slant, and he can hit these all day long with great accuracy. At 5’ 10” Edelman is one of the toughest players in the NFL. I don’t know which CB will be put on Edelman, but it will be important for them to hit him off line and keep him from getting these quick passes. If they can accomplish that they will take a big piece out of the Patriots playbook.
The Ravens offense facing this Patriots defense will tell us a great deal about how good they are. The Ravens are very good when coming off the bye week and they generally play well at home. Having the extra week to game plan for the Patriots is a big deal and hopefully shows up on the field. This is a winnable game for the Ravens but it means they play have to protect the ball, play penalty free and play ball control offense. The defense has to play disciplined football and it would be best if they don’t get too amped up and go for big splash plays. They just need to do their job – hold the edge, stay in their lane, cover their part of the field – and if they do those things, they will be fine. I worry if they play over aggressively, they will give up big sweep plays, big screens and let somebody get past the coverage. To quote Coach Belichick, “do your job”.
Ravens get back Brown and Smith for this game which is great news for the team. Having Brown helps stretch the field and may help keep the defensive backs from cheating towards the line of scrimmage. Smith being added to the secondary will give the defense some options and will help to keep the other CBs a bit fresher. The Ravens love the big games and will want to show they are up to the challenge. Vegas has the Patriots by 3 points and the over under is set at 45. I think the Ravens win this in a tight one – perhaps with a game winning kick by Tucker. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.
New England Patriots hosted by the Baltimore Ravens – November 3rd at 8:20 pm
Odds – Patriots by 3
Score Ravens 24 Patriots 23
Turnovers Minus 1
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 121 Patriots 94
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 186 Patriots 244
Edelman leads all receivers in both receptions and yards
McCourty gets one pick
Lamar runs for < 60 year
Refs make terrible calls
Keys to the Game
• Convert on 3rd down and move the chains
• Pressure Brady up the middle
• No turnovers/Minimize penalties <6