The New England Patriots are undefeated headed into Baltimore to take on the Ravens. Here’s three ways they can take down Baltimore on the road.
Much of the discourse in the lead-up to this game has focused on how the Patriots much-ballyhooed defense will defend the Ravens’ multidimensional running attack, and rightfully so. This matchup alone is enough to make most football fans ruin their Monday mornings by staying up late to watch.
The Ravens have a good shot at taking this game. With their steadily-improving defense and an explosive superstar on offense, the Ravens can pull off a win against any team — particularly one that is struggling to hit deep passes at the moment.
But the Patriots have been a problem for every other team in the league seemingly since forever, and their 8-0 record this year shows that they still know how to win, the level of competition to this point notwithstanding. Here are three ways the Patriots can stay perfect on the season after their visit to Baltimore this weekend.
Belichick has answers
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has spent his remarkable career finding solutions to problems. A common observation of his defenses over the year has been that Belichick takes away what a team does best and forces it to find an alternative plan.
He has often used his second best coverage corner, along with a safety, to take away opponents’ top receivers, while putting his top corner on the team’s second receiver. He also forced the Seahawks to go to a pass play on the goal line in a memorable Super Bowl moment by pushing all his chips in on a run-stuffing formation.
He’s good at this football stuff, boys and girls, regardless how you feel about him. The guess is Belichick will sell out against the Ravens run game, and run some combination zone-man coverages behind it. Will it work? We’ll find out Sunday night.
if it does, the Patriots can win the game.
Tom Brady is Tom Brady
Tom Brady has been good this year, and he has led his team to an 8-0 mark, while throwing 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been good. But probably not as great as he has been in past seasons.
The Patriots offensive line has been banged up, and has not afforded him the same protection he has enjoyed throughout much of his career. That has also contributed to the Pats’ running game really struggling, as they are averaging a mere 3.2 yards per carry. To put that in perspective, they are allowing 4.6 yards per carry. The Patriots have also lacked downfield receiving options for Brady, and he has clearly missed retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Still, Brady is Brady. There isn’t a single part of me that would be surprised if he completely balled out on the road against the Ravens under the lights. Would it surprise you? Really?
If Brandy has a vintage night —and the Ravens have struggled to mount a consistent pass rush, mind you —, the Patriots can win this game.
Sunday night buffoonery
Weird things happen to teams in prime time, particularly for young teams with young signal-callers. Remember Sam Darnold and his ghosts? Well, that was against this Patriots defense.
Jackson had a breakout performance last season in prime time against the Los Angeles Chargers, and performed spectacularly well against the Seahawks on the road in his last game, in a 4:30 national spotlight against a formidable opponent. But this is a big game, and we have see him come out a little too amped up for a big opponent, like his performance earlier this season against Kansas City.
He could go either way, and how Jackson plays, is pretty much how this Ravens team plays. This will be a talented, well-coached, battle-hardened defense he’s facing, and it will be a challenge. A challenge, by the way, that many smart football minds think he’s up to.
But an off game could keep the Ravens from winning this one. And this foe has caused plenty of off games.