When the Baltimore Ravens line up against the New England Patriots Sunday night, the Ravens will be looking for revenge. The Patriots ended the Ravens season in the AFC Championship but the Ravens had many chances to win the game. Joe Flacco outplayed Brady and the defense bailed him out of the rare mistakes and reads he did not make.
Although the Ravens will be looking for revenge, this game does not hold any real significance come Monday morning. Sure, both of these teams are considered Super Bowl contenders but the season is still young. This game does however, have the potential to determine the playoff standings come the end of the regular season.
Throughout the first two weeks of the 2012 season, the Ravens and Patriots have not lived up to expectations. Both had a disappointing week two loss and have not been particularly good in their areas of usual strength. The Patriots added new weapons in the offseason such as Brandon Lloyd. Although Brady has new pieces to work with, the offense has showcased the explosive potential they are capable of. The Ravens on the other hand have struggled defensively. The defense gave up 371 passing yards to Michael Vick and struggled defending the Bengals rushing attack in week one.
Many are picking the Ravens to win this game, and I hope they are right but I dont see the Ravens winning this game. Tom Brady doesn’t lose back to back games and the Patriots have improved defensively. The loss of Aaron Hernandez will prove to be significant though. Hernandez can play every skill position on offense and with his absence, the Patriots and Tom Brady are going to have to be more creative. I expect the Patriots to spread the Ravens out and force the Ravens to play in space.
If the Ravens want to win this game, they will have to stop Rob Gronkowski. They have the cornerback depth to deal with the Patriots receivers but their linebacking core is a different story. Many of the Ravens outside linebackers are young and inexperienced. Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan will have to play well in run and pass defense.
Although the Ravens outside linebackers are young, I think Courtney UpShaw has a chance to have a breakout game. He wont play as much seeing as Paul Kruger is healthy but he has a chance to make a big impact on this game. The Patriots will be so focused on stopping Haloti Ngata that Upshaw, when playing on third downs, will not be facing many double teams. Look for UpShaw to have a good game.
Last time the Patriots played in Baltimore, they were undefeated but the Ravens almost pulled off the upset of the century. All of the recent games between the Patriots and Ravens have been very close and this game will be no different. In my opinion, the Patriots will win this game by a field goal but I really hope I am wrong. Having Arthur and Chandler Jones playing for opposing teams will make this game much more interesting.