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Gametime: Patriots (11-0) At Ravens (4-7)

Tom Brady and the Patriots haven't played the Ravens since a 24-3 win in Week 12 back in 2004. (Courtesy of NFL.com)
Tom Brady and the Patriots haven’t played the Ravens since a 24-3 win in Week 12 back in 2004. (Courtesy of NFL.com)

The Game: New England Patriots At Baltimore Ravens
The Day: Monday, December 3
The Time: 8:30pm
The Channel: ESPN
The Skinny: The Patriots come in 11-0 and the Ravens have lost five straight games. Yet as each week progresses, the pressure of a perfect regular season mounts on the Patriots. The Ravens are down but playing at home on Monday night, stranger things have happened.

Sure, the Ravens possess some key defensive players in name, but few will agree that the Ravens D resembles that of their Super Bowl winning team (that WAS seven years ago). Ray Lewis has undoubtedly lost a step and Chris McAlister has had a less than superb season. Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed also can provide the Patriots with potential problems. It’s also possible that the Ravens possess many of the qualities of the Philadelphia Eagles defense which nearly beat the Patriots last week.

Here are my 3 Keys to the game:

  1. SPREAD THE BALL: Ed Reed is still one of the best safeties in the NFL. With McAlister having a sub-par year, it will most likely be Reed who helps out with Randy Moss. Stallworth, Welker and Ben Watson should be able to find space to operate with Reed concentrating on Moss. Lewis can still provide a game-changing play, but it remains to be seen if he can keep up with the likes of Welker and Watson. If the Patriots can continue to spread the ball as they have the whole season, it will be tough for the Ravens to stop them.
  2. STOP MCGAHEE, WIN THE GAME: One glaring difference between the Eagles and Ravens is the quality of the offense. A.J. Feeley has had the Patriots number his whole career and his receivers are much higher quality than the Ravens possess. Sure, Willis McGahee is a premier NFL running back, but he doesn’t provide nearly the same amount of match up problems than Brian Westbrook, who is an even greater threat catching out of the backfield. If the Patriots can stop McGahee, it could be a long game for QB Kyle Boller.
  3. TAKE THE CROWD OUT OF IT EARLY: The Ravens may be in the midst of a five game losing streak and are 19 point underdogs at home, but the crowd will surely be jacked up for Monday Night Football. If the Patriots receive the ball first and take it down for a touchdown, the fans should be demoralized right off the bat and it would take a Herculean effort to get the Ravens back into the game.

Prediction:
The Eagles gave the Pats a scare last week but I don’t see a repeat performance. Lito Sheppard is a much better CB than Chris McAlister this season and Kyle Boller has never showed the ability to stand in the pocket and deliver a ball while taking a hit like Feeley did last week. McGahee poses much fewer problems for the Patriots defense than Westbrook and with Adalius Thomas moving to OLB it will be tough to find space on the outside for the former UMiami running back. Moss will create match up problems for the Ravens secondary and if McAlister has problems and forces a constant double team with Reed, the rest of the Patriots receiving corps will be licking their chops. The only real mystery will be if Laurence Maroney plays a snap in the first half!

Patriots 41, Ravens 10

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Discussion

One comment for “Gametime: Patriots (11-0) At Ravens (4-7)”

  1. I’d say there were a few more mysteries than whether Maroney played or not.

    Posted by Me | December 4, 2007, 12:17 am

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