1:00 ET @ Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
The Ravens come into the game as possibly the best team in the NFL. ESPN has them ranked as number one overall and as do What If Sports. They also find themselves at number two on Yahoo!'s power rankings. Flacco enters having thrown for over 300 yards in two of the first three games of the year. The Ravens, as a team, are coming in scoring at least 31 points in every game this season and are averaging over 34 points per game. By the way, all of those points have come on offense. The pass offense of the Ravens rank 5th and as does the rushing offense while totaling them up to be 2nd in the NFL in entire offense as well as 2nd in scoring offense.
However, the Ravens have to face their biggest test yet as the Patriots are looking to knock them off their undefeated horse. The main issue for the Ravens will be getting passed the Patriots defense. While Flacco has thrown for 300 yards in two-thirds of the games so far, the Patriots have NOT allowed a 300 yard passer all season. They also rank ahead of the Ravens in total defense with 262.3 yards allowed per game, 88.3 rushing yards per game, and 174 passing yards per game. They have yet to face a power offense, though, as they have went up against the Bills, Jets, and Falcons. Well, I guess one scary thing is that they held Michael Turner to only 56 yards on 15 carries.
Ray Rice/Willis McGahee/Le'Ron McClain vs. The Patriots' Run Defense
The Ravens may not be able to get away with the pass game this week as the Patriots offense has been pretty good in shutting down every other passing game they have faced.
As previously mentioned, the Ravens find themselves 5th in the NFL in rushing offense. Both Willis McGahee and Ray Rice are averaging over 5 yards per carry with McGahee leading the team with 5.94 yards per attempt. As a team, the Ravens average exactly 5 yards per carry giving them a dangerous weapon even without a superstar like AP or LDT.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are averaging only 88.3 rushing yards per game allowed and held Michael Turner to 56 yards last Sunday.
If they want a good chance to win this game, they need to get back to their 2008 roots and run it right down New England's throats.
Steven Hauschka vs. The Elements
The weather forecast for Sunday in Foxboro? The high is going to be 68 degrees. Thats okay. As it stands now, it will be a 40% chance of rain. That makes it a little worse. And to ice the cake, the winds will be blowing the north at an average of six miles per hour.
It is no secret that the Ravens have a ... well ... crappy kicker. It is scary to see him kick in no winds, no precipitation, and in a perfect temperature. But when you go all PacMan Jones and make it rain, good things can't happen.
If it comes down to it, and I feel as if it might, where Hauschka has to make a clutch field goal, there could be issues. Better hope Matt Stover just happens to be visiting the team in Foxboro.
Players to Watch:
Ed Reed - Safety - Baltimore Ravens ... FROM THE U!
I predicted it last week. Ed Reed did have an interception and finally put his name in the boxscore. The good news for Baltimore and the bad news for New England is that when Ed Reed breaks out, just like acne on a teen, he breaks out in bunches. Just look at the game logs for the end of last year and you see bunch of two's under interceptions.
With the Patriots' weak run game going against Baltimore's best rushing defense in the league, Tom Brady is bound to throw the ball a ton. Good news for the best ball hawk in the NFL as Ed Reed gets tons of opportunities.
Let's just hope that the corners are able to perform well.
Tom Brady - Quarterback - New England Patriots
You have to include the "god" that is Tom Brady. He is on track for a feast day against the Baltimore passing defense.
It would not be surprising to see him throw the ball 50 times in this game as they revert away from their weak running game.
And when Brady throws the ball that many times in a game, he is bound to rack up all the yards. Especially when his receivers are Moss and Welker (Q).
The performance of Tom Brady is the most important to the Patriots' successes this week. If he comes out as Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, the Patriots might as well put this game down as a win. However, if he comes out as Tom of this season - the Tom with a 79.9 QB rating - the Patriots just might as well forget it.
The game will go down as the best game of the week. It will be back and forth the entire way through with both teams coming up big on both offense and defense.
The big gainers for the Patriots will be Tom Brady as he does not have a 2009 Tom game nor a MVP Tom game, just somewhere in between. Two touchdowns and two interceptions to go along with 350 yards seems appropriate. One of those interceptions are thrown to Ed Reed.
For the Ravens, Ray Rice has another huge game as he rumbles for over 100 yards and Willis McGahee finishes off two drives with touchdowns.
I wouldn't be surprised to see overtime in this one as a result of a Steven Hauschka missed kick. But, the Ravens still pull out a 30-24 win out over the Pats in overtime.