Ravens @ Patriots Preview: T-Shirt Day No Longer Possible, But Pats Need Win

The Ravens and Pats have quite the history. They’ve faced each other in the playoffs three times in the last five years. The first time, in the 2011-12 season, the Pats beat the Ravens after Billy Cundiff missed the historic last second field goal that lost his team the game. It’s ironic because today these two teams arguably have the best kickers in the league. The Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLVI that year but lost to the Giants.

In 2012-13, the Patriots lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that year but struggled the following season. The Ravens did rebound in 2014-15, and tried to end the Pats amazing season when facing them in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. But the 10-6 Ravens failed and the Patriots went on to beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in dramatic fashion.  The Ravens did play the Pats in 2013 regular season but got hammered 41-7. The Ravens did terribly through many injuries last year but have once again rebounded and are now a decent team fighting for the AFC North.

Today the Ravens are coming off a win over Miami. They started the season very well but then began to slump. Since the slump ended they have done well and are once again in the division race.

The Patriots recently lost Gronk for the season due to a herniated disc but the Pats offense had adjustment time last week against the Rams, and they put on a clinic with the Gronk-less offense. Will the Patriots keep up their strong season or will the Ravens upset them and stay in the middle of the playoff race? Read on and then watch the game tonight at 8:30 to find out.

Playoff Scenarios
Patriots: A win and a MIA loss or win next week clinches the division for New England. A win and MIA loss this week would’ve also done it but Miami won despite their star QB’s mid game injury

Ravens: A win would put the Ravens in the current playoff picture with a 3rd seed. A loss would hurt their playoff chances since the Steelers already won

The Keys To The Game

1. The front seven needs to be prepared. Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West will try to bust through them, but they cannot let that happen.
2. The Pats need a running game. If the Gronk-less offense is going to work, they need to work around tough run defenses like the Ravens.
3. Keep it up Malcolm Mitchell! Malcolm Mitchell needs to keep his hot streak up and Chris Hogan needs to make some contributions with Danny Amendola out. Mitchell should be able to make up for some of Gronk’s reps, but Martellus Bennett needs to step it up too!


1. Gronk or no Gronk, the Patriots are going to throw the ball a lot. The Ravens need to have a better secondary. They only have one solidified corner, Jimmy Smith, and they need to keep their eye on Bennett, Edelman, Mitchell and Hogan. They may have problems tonight.
2. The Ravens also need to take advantage of the Pats’ recent defensive struggles.  If the Ravens o-line can keep the Pats away from Flacco they could put up a good amount of points especially with Eric Rowe out.
3. The Ravens have so much depth on offense and need to use it! They need to mix up their run game and spread the ball out to many different receivers like Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken and Dennis Pitta.

What Do The Stats Say? (Analysis of NFL.com provided stats)

The Ravens may be #1 in total defense but Brady is 6-0 against #1 defenses at home, with a 66.2 completion percentage, 334.2 passing yards per game, a 12-3 TD-INT ratio and 99.9 passer rating. The Ravens have only allowed 3.4 yards per rush and 73.8 rush yards per game and in both stats they are best in the NFL. They are 7-1 when allowing 24 points or fewer this year, but 0-4 when they allow more. LeGarrette Blount has scored 13 rush TDs this year but the Ravens have allowed just 4.
Tom Brady is also this season’s passer rating leader overall and also on 3rd down, against the blitz and in the red zone. Brady had 9.3 air yards per attempt with Gronk but only 7.7 without. The Patriots defense Is playing bend don’t break again as they are allowing just 17 points per game, tied for 2nd best in the NFL with Baltimore. As for the Ravens, they have a +37 point differential in the 1st quarter. However, offensive struggles, especially in the run game and under pressure or in 3rd down have occurred. The Ravens average just 3.8 yards per rush (26th in league) and 89.7 yards per game (28th in league), not much more than they allow. Baltimore is the second to worst in the league on third down, converting on just 34.1 percent of third down situations. Flacco did his best last week though, with 300+ yards and a passer rating of 119.2

Bold Prediction
Tom Brady will throw 4 TDs and for 300+ yards. Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell and Martellus Bennett will combine for 200 yards and 3 TDs.

The Pick
Patriots, 37, Ravens, 26
The Patriots aren’t going to let the Ravens upest them at home! Despite bad defense of late, their offense should destroy the Ravens defense in an offensive shootout. The Ravens defense is good but not good enough for the Pats. The defenses will do some of the work but most of it should be offense. These defenses just haven’t been good lately, especially the Pats, who need to step it up on D.  Despite a good record and offensive performance this year, especially since Brady returned, the offense needs help from the defense.  If they keep Flacco down, they will have more scoring opportunities.  It’s the up to the Pats pass rush and they will step up to beat Baltimore.
RB Javorious Allen

RB Lorenzo Taliaferro

TE Crockett Gillmore

OG Ryan Jensen

LB Za’Darius Smith

CB Chris Lewis-Harris

RB D.J. Foster

WR Danny Amendola

WR Griff Whalen

T LaAdrian Waddle

DT Woodrow Hamilton

CB Eric Rowe

SS Jordan Richards

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