Ravens vs. Patriots picks and predictions from Ebony Bird
Darin McCann makes his pick:
Well, here we are — the litmus tests of litmus tests. The undefeated, six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are coming to town to face off against the rising Baltimore Ravens and their budding star quarterback, Lamar Jackson.
The win against Seattle moved the needle for the national media for the Ravens, legitimizing them in the eyes of many who have reserved judgement to this point. A good performance against the Patriots will officially put the rest of the league on notice.
The Ravens are going to give that performance.
The Patriots are brilliant schemers, but Jackson is beginning to prove that he, along with the work of offensive coordinator Greg Roman, is up to whatever scheme presents itself. The Dolphins stacked the box, and Jackson threw it over their heads and hit slants and seams. The Seahawks tried their matchup zone, along with a spy in the form of brilliant linebacker Bobby Wagner, and the Ravens targeted tight ends and ran the ball.
This will be a war from whistle to whistle, and though I ultimately see the Ravens falling just short in this one, it will show the rest of the football world that this Ravens team is for real, and they will be showing up as a legitimate contender come playoff time.
I believe Belichick will offer something different against Jackson’s running game, and place his coverage priorities on Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews, daring other targets to beat them. This will open the middle for Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards to be effective, and I think Hayden Hurst will take advantage of opportunities to show out under the spotlight.
It will be the Ravens lack of interior pass rush, I fear, that will allow Tom Brady to do just enough damage to win a thriller between two AFC powerhouses. I won’t feel bad if I’m wrong here, mind you, and believe the Ravens have a real legitimate shot.
• Earl Thomas will get an early pick to give the Ravens good field position, and they will take advantage of it with a touchdown run by Mark Ingram.
• Hayden Hurst will collect six catches, with a touchdown. The attention he will receive in the fourth quarter will allow Brown to break loose for a 30-plus yard catch.
• Lamar Jackson will indeed shine, throwing for 240 yards, with two touchdowns, and running for another 75 yards. He will win over some hearts and minds, and Brady will offer him some real encouraging words post-game.
New England 31 Baltimore 27