Your Monday Reality Check-Patriots Game Sunday, Not Yesterday

January 16, 2012 | Glenn Clark


In the immediacy of the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-13 AFC Divisional Round playoff victory over the Houston Texans Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, I couldn’t help but notice something strange.

It wasn’t from ALL Baltimore Ravens fans, in fact it was far from it.

Instead it came from a particular group of fans who are regularly quick to over-analyze and are particularly negative. Instead of analyzing the team’s strategy and game play against the AFC South champions, they did something much more strange.

They analyzed the team’s strategy and game play based on their next opponent-the New England Patriots.

I’d like to take this time to do what we call in the radio business “resetting.”

The Baltimore Ravens will face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts Sunday, January 22nd at 3pm. The game will be seen live on CBS.

In shorter form, the Ravens and the Pats are nearly a week away from facing each other. They were not scheduled to play (that I know of) this past weekend.

Over the weekend, the only team the Ravens were scheduled to play was the Houston Texans. They won that game 20-13 to advance in the National Football League Playoffs.

I can see where it might seem silly, me resetting like this. I just feel the need to do it because of the many responses I’ve seen since Sunday’s game went final.

“Tom Brady would pick apart this defense.”
“Joe Flacco will be embarrassed standing next to Tom Brady.”
“Cam Cameron isn’t aggressive enough to beat the Pats.”

For the record, I intend to make a pick for the AFC Championship Game this Friday on “The Friday Football Frenzy.” For a second straight week, I picked just two of the four NFL Playoff games correctly this weekend. I struggled coming down the stretch in the regular season as well. I picked the Ravens to win 12 of their 16 regular season games this year, and I was right nine times. I also picked the Ravens to lose four games during the regular season-I got only one of those (at San Diego) right.

My point is that I have no issue with someone looking into their crystal ball to guess who will win a football game. No matter how intelligent someone may be however, it is ALWAYS only a guess. No one (not even in Las Vegas-I think) actually has any idea of who will win a game before it happens.

But this is an appropriate thing to do on a Friday (or Thursday perhaps) after spending a few days breaking down the matchups and taking a closer look at the involved parties.

I stress to you-what happened Sunday here in Charm City may (or may not) have ANYTHING to do with what the Ravens will do in their next game against the Pats.

They weren’t playing the Pats Sunday. They didn’t prepare for them. They didn’t face the same matchups that they will face this coming Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Saying “they would have gotten destroyed by the Patriots today” is completely irrelevant. No one on the face of the planet has any idea how the Ravens would have done against the Patriots yesterday.

As the Ravens do prepare for their AFC title showdown, they will have plenty to look at. They will prepare for a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Brady, a MONSTER tight end tandem in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, a rushing attack that has been so inept their leading rusher in their Saturday night win over the Denver Broncos was Hernandez and a defense that ranked next to last in the NFL in the regular season.

In getting ready for the Texans, the Ravens prepared for rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, an all-world rushing attack lead by Arian Foster, one of the finest wide receivers in the game in Andre Johnson and a defense that was statistically ranked second in the NFL in the regular season.

Needless to say, the matchup is much different. The game will almost certainly be played in a different manner.

There is no guarantee that the Ravens will wander into Foxborough, beat the Patriots and march on to Super Bowl XLVI. There is of course no guarantee they’ll see their season come to a close either.

But there IS a guarantee that the NFL won’t move kickoff before the game is played. This one will start at 3pm Sunday, allowing each team a full week to prepare.

The Ravens’ performance against the Patriots could be the exact same as it was against the Texans-but I’ll bet it won’t be. I’ll bet the team has a different gameplan and the Patriots offer a different style of football-perhaps a more quick strike offense.

I say that facetiously.

The game will almost certainly be completely different. I’ll look forward to spending the week looking at matchups. At this point I’m definitely concerned about the 6’6″ tight end who came off the Ravens’ draft board because of a failed physical.

Physical-that’s a funny word to use with him.

Just please be willing to not use Sunday’s performance as an indictment of what the Ravens are going to do on the field in New England.

Carry on.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


9 Comments For This Post

  1. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Taking a “page” from your playbook and, looking forward to New England, I believe the Ravens are the better team. Of the three high powered offenses to start the playoffs, the Patriots are the only one that didn’t beat a team with a winning record during the entire season! And, they lost to the Steelers in Foxborough, so they are not invincible at home. That being said, if given time, Brady is accurate enough to pick apart ANY defense; therefore, it’s incumbent upon the Ravens to pressure him unmercifully. The Bronco’s had a reasonably good defense this year, but for some inexplicable reason, decided Saturday night to rush 3 while defending the back end by dropping 8 in coverage. All Brady did was throw 5 TD passes in the first quarter! Nothing more needs to be said – the key to beating the Patriots is to get to Brady…….

  2. PghSteve Says:

    Armchair QB: Actually, the Pats lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, then lost to the Giants in Foxboro the next week (November 6). They have not lost since then, which is certainly no indication of whether they will win or lose on Sunday. As for the Ravens pressuring Brady, that is a good idea, but the Ravens have just 3 sacks in their last 4 games. Mr. Suggs has not exactly been a non-factor in recent weeks, but he has not been the DPOY he appeared to be through the first 3/4s of the season. And you can likely count on at least one roughing the passer penalty on the Ravens for threatening to mess up Mr. Brady’s uniform.

    At any rate, good luck to the Ravens.

  3. Cliff Says:

    How do you beat a supposedly better team? You stop what they do best; sometimes by turnovers, and other times by crucial stops. But at least 75% of it is always defense. It also could be unleashing an offense that the other team is not prepared for; but in any case, you have to actually “beat” the other team. You can not rely on ‘what got you this far’ to beat them. There is no secret in beating New England. You have to stop or at least put “doubt” in Tom Brady. He will come “apart” like Aaron Rodgers did if the Ravens accomplish the above.

    This has been proved over and over in football. You have to ‘beat’ the other team and stop what they do best.
    Alabama vs. LSU. Alabama defense stopped the powerful LSU offense;game over! 1969 Jets way back in the day ‘beat’ the Colts. The Colts relying on what had ‘got them that far’ were not ready to stop Namath. They were not prepared to stop the Jet’s running. They were not prepared for any….. misfortunes. It came upon them like a dark cloud. All because the Jets were ‘prepared’ to beat the Colts.

  4. Chris Says:

    Here’s a reality check, the Pats dominated a team they should have, the Ravens eeked out a win against an inferior team.

    Tom Brady = elite QB
    Joe Flacco = average QB

    If both teams execute they way they did this week, the Brady Bunch goes back to the big game.

  5. Tom Says:

    The Ravens sure know how to talk a good game … too bad they don’t play as good a they talk!

  6. PghSteve Says:

    On the other hand: While I do not disagree with what you say above, this was not the assumption after a 35-7 defeat of the Steelers back in September. After that game, most people in Baltimore (including some folks on your station) were ready to schedule the Super Bowl parade. I heard lots of, “If the Ravens play like that every week, no one beats them.” Guess they forgot to prepare for a different team the next week. And someone forgot to tell the Steelers that their season was over after one game.

    I wonder what the town would be saying today if the Ravens had beat the Texans 38-3 yesterday, with Mr. Flacco throwing 3 TDs and Rice running for 2 more?

    “Tom Brady doesn’t have a chance against this defense.”
    “Joe Flacco and Ray Rice will embarrass Tom Brady.”
    “Cam Cameron has a game plan to beat the Pats.”

    Every game is different, but the next game is always viewed through the lens of the previous game.

  7. matt Says:

    if baltimore had a super impressive victory over a 3rd string rookie qb at home against an extremely inexperienced playoff team the fans would be giddy. but thats not the way it happened

    you cant ask fans to take the good out of a win when the only good was the defense barely bailed out the offense. the good of that game could be relished within 10 minutes.

    then the fans immediately realize the next opponent is an extremely experienced playoff team, with what could arguably be the best QB of all time, in foxborough, with 2 uncoverable TE’s and the way they just blew through the broncos.

    i do believe the ravens match up much better against the pats than they did the texans. ray rice and the defense won the game against the pats in 09. this year it is the o-line and flacco’s job to win or lose the game.

  8. Matt Says:

    Ravens will be fine next Sunday, they will be fully prepared, as will the Patriots. It will be a close game won in the trenches. The Ravens benefit from the fact that they fought a war Sunday and the Patriots basically won playing out of a Laz-Z-Boy with no pressure or duress. The Ravens will have the advantage of experience in close, physical games whereas the Patriots will be out of their element so to speak. If the game plays out that way, the Ravens will be in good shape.

  9. Tim from Ruxton Says:

    Let’s think about this. Thr Ravens have beaten the Texans twice, a playoff team. They have beaten Cincinnatti twice, a playoff team. They have beaten the 49ers, a playoff team. They have beaten Pittsburgh twice a playoff team. They are 7-0 against playoff teams. Albeit ugly, they know how to win when it matters. On the other hand, NE has only played three playoff teams, They lost to the Giants, they lost to the Steelers (who the Ravens beat twice) and they beat the Broncos twice, the playoff team with the worst record in the AFC. The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to go to the playoffs four years in a row. We have gone (are going) to the AFC chanpianship in two of those. Get a grip everyone. The Ravens are a really really good team and I’ll guarantee you that we are the last team the Patriots want to face!

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