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AFC WILD CARD: Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots


Playoffs Round One: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

Sunday January 10, 2009 1:05 PM
Line: Ravens +2

Every game is the Super Bowl.

That’s the message the Ravens have to hold onto for the rest of the season. I truly believe that the best preparation the Ravens could have had in getting ready for this week’s game was playing the Oakland Raiderswith everything on the line. The Ravens have had their taste of win or go home and have hopefully thrown themselves fully into the mentality necessary for postseason football.

The Patriots are the team of the decade, and no team has been better in the postseason. But the Pats are banged up, they have holes all over their starting lineup, and they are clearly not the same team they once were. This is anybody’s game, and to win, the Ravens are going to have to bring everything they have to win.

With that in mind let’s take a look at this week’s matchup. Keys to the Game:

Attack Attack Attack!

Teams who have beaten the Patriots, have done so by constantly attacking on both sides of the ball. They get in Tom Brady’s face on defense and attack the field on offense. That is the best and only way to take down this Patriots team. They are balanced, they are smart and they will beat you. You have to take them completely out of the game and rob them of an opportunity to win. For the Ravens to win this weekend they must follow this plan and get after it. Greg Mattison must step up the pressure, just as Cam Cameron must dial up the balanced attack scheme.

Get in Brady’s Face

I included this in my article the last time the Ravens faced the Pats, and its no less true now than it was then. It is damn difficult to sack Tom Brady. He’s elusive, he’s crafty, and well, it may sound like beating a long expired horse, but he’s smart. You get anywhere near him and he’s gonna throw the ball away. The key to taking him down is to get in his face and make him throw the ball away, or better yet, hurry his decision making and maybe, just maybe, throw an interception. He is the key to the win. Get to him, make him erratic and the Ravens will win.

Find a Way to Protect the Field

Slowly but surely the Ravens Defense has been climbing the ranks of the NFL. From their beginning position in the bottom ten to their latest position of 3rd overall, this unit has gone along way in re-establishing their culture of dominance.

That being said, the Patriots will bring everything they have in an effort to win. The best news the Ravens received all week was Wes Welker’s injury. I mean the man no harm and I wish him the speediest of recovery, but with him on the sideline the Ravens are free to focus all of their weapons on Randy Moss. If they can take Moss out of the equation the Pats will be forced to throw to either Julian Edelman or Ben Watson. Watson is untested and Edelman is so green its not even funny. I don’t care what people say about Edelman being a Welker clone, he doesn’t have Welker’s head on his shoulders.

If the Ravens can limit Moss and play smart football against the pass, I have faith in their ability to swallow up the run and escape New England with a win.

Play SMART Football

Look, well all know about the Patriots. Like it or not, they get preferential treatment by the Refs. They always have, they always will. The way the officiating crew bows before Belichick and Tom Brady is shameful to the sport and shameful to the profession, but no honest fan would ever say that they wouldn’t jump at the chance to get that same sort of treatment. The Ravens would kill for that sort of deference.

Beating the Patriots means stepping it up and playing the cleanest smartest football that they’ve managed all season. They cannot beat themselves by taking penalties. Clean it up, don’t give the zebras an excuse and get the job done.

Hammer the Defensive Line

Just like in the previous match up, it’s looking like Vincent Wilfork is questionable to suit up tomorrow. Although it’s about as likely as God himself coming down from on high to officiate the game, if that’s the case, then the Ravens must run the ball down the throats of New England. Wilfork is the anchor of the Patriots defensive line and if he’s down, the already shaky Defense may have a tough time containing the Ravens. Additionally, the longer the Ravens have the ball the less time Tom Brady is on the field. Which brings me to my next point.

Possess the Ball

If Tom Brady is not on the field, then he has no opportunity to score, and thus no opportunity to win. Lately the Ravens have returned to a run first mentality. This is the key to keeping the patriots in check and winning the game. The Ravens have to literally suck the wind out of this game and gnaw the Patriots to death with clock management and ball possession.

Make Brady watch the game and I guarantee you Joe and Ray and the coaching staff will take this team to Indy.

Beat the Crowd

The biggest thing that the Ravens can do is to take the Patriot fans out of the game. They are loud, they are obnoxious, and they enjoy one of the hardest venues in all off football to play in during the postseason. On a side note though, it appears that the Patriots were having trouble selling out games. Many pundits are thinking that the showing of Ravens fans in Foxboro could be quite large indeed. We can only hope.

If the Ravens can get up in the score early, take the Fans out of the game, it will be that much easier to take down the Patriots in a notoriously difficult place to play.



Ravens Gab Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs

I believe the Ravens have what it takes to beat the Patriots. Skill wise they match up very well and always have. The only thing that makes me think that this will be the end of the road for the Ravens is the fact that history is not on their side. Tom Brady and his referee proof bandits are a perfect 8-0 this season when playing at home and have a long distinguished history of dominating teams in the postseason. Especially when playing at home. Couple that with the fact that the Ravens have never beaten the Patriots, and I just don’t have a good feeling about this one. Sorry Ravens fans. I think this is the last stand of the mighty men.

Ravens 20 — Patriots 31

Matt Jergensen

There is no question that this is not the same Patriots team that dominated the last decade. They are still a very good team with one of the game’s best under center and playing at home will give them an advantage as they have been less than ordinary on the road. I prefer to look at recent history for some keys to this game. Baltimore needs to play smart and yet they are the 3rd most penalized team in the league. The Ravens need to make a few big plays on both sides of the ball tomorrow in order to advance. This season they normally come up just short against good teams. On Sunday they will compete hard and keep it close but I don’t see them able to put enough together to advance to Indianapolis.

Ravens 21 — Patriots 23

Gene Winner

QB Tom Brady and the Patriots are formidable opponent at home. However, they do have their problems in the secondary and have had a key injury with Wes Welker out.  The Ravens defense needs to limit the big passing plays and get a pass rush on Brady.

The Ravens offense should have no problem running the ball, but they must get Flacco into rhythm by calling faster developing passing plays.

Hopefully the Ravens will pull out a close one and gain some respect around the league.

Ravens 31 – Patriots 30

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One Response to “AFC WILD CARD: Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots”

  1. […] Jeff Howe wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:Playoffs Round One: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots Sunday January 10, 2009 1:05 PM Line: Ravens +2 Every game is the Super Bowl. That’s the message the Ravens have to hold onto for the rest of the season. […]

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