When the Ravens travel to New England on Saturday for a Divisional Playoff matchup, there will be several key battles the Patriots will have to win. One of the most critical will be the Patriots offensive line versus the Baltimore defensive line. In the past, the Ravens have shown a unique ability to harass Tom Brady and force him into mistakes or short offensive series. They have also consistently been able to get pressure against any team. This season has been no different for the Ravens and Saturday will be tough for the Patriots up front.

In 17 games (16 regular season, one playoff) this season, the Ravens have accumulated 54 sacks total which comes out to roughly three per game. In an eight game stretch in the middle of the season, the Patriots only gave up four sacks total. However, they gave up that many in the first half of their week 16 game against the Jets and had some issues in week 17 against Buffalo before resting their starters. Dan Connolly has missed time late in the season which has caused reshuffling and the Patriots will hope that he is fully healthy for Saturday. Nate Solder also struggled the last two games and Sebastian Vollmer was inactive for the final game although that seemed more precautionary than anything else. Continue reading Baltimore Defensive Front Could Sabotage Patriots »

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1.PATRIOTS – RAVENS PREVIEW:

* Ravens Kicker Justin Tucker 4 for 9 from 50 yards out

* Dumervil and Suggs combined for 29 sacks

* 350 pound Haloti Ngata leads the Ravens with 2 interceptions

* 2014 Regular season – Ravens are 1-4 when a team throws for 300 yards / Ravens are 1-5 when they have at least 2 turnovers / Ravens are 2-3 when a team runs for 100 yards

* Patriots are favored by 7 – they have not covered in the last three Baltimore playoff games being favored by 7.5 / 7.0 / 4

* Last three playoff games with Ravens: Patriots 10 turnovers to 3 for Baltimore

* Patriots are 7-1 against Baltimore regular season and 1-2 playoffs (got lucky on the win)

* Ray Rice and Aaron Hernandez will not be playing in this game Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Like Christmas Eve! »

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gronk1

Several times this season I have written about the impact that a healthy Rob Gronkowski can make in a game. It is no secret that he is the league’s most dominant tight end and one of the premier offensive weapons in football. He is virtually uncoverable and will provide the Patriots with a distinct advantage this weekend. The Patriots have played the Ravens three times in the postseason since 2009. In those three games, they have had Gronkowski for a total of less than three quarters. He was not on the roster for the 2009 game, injured in the third quarter of the 2011 game, and missed the entirety of the 2012 game due to injury.

If Gronkowski can be healthy for the entire game Saturday, he can dramatically affect the outcome. Continue reading Rob Gronkowski Could Prove a Nightmare for Ravens »

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Take a bow, Pedro: You are now officially a Hall of Famer. (Wikipedia)

What we Red Sox fans have known for a long time is finally official: Pedro Martinez is a Hall of Famer.

The wiry, fiery starter, who already was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame earlier this year, was elected to Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility, receiving 91.1 percent of the BBWA vote (500 ballots).

Martinez won three Cy Youngs in his 18-year career, including back-to-back awards in 1999 and 2000 with the Red Sox. He was 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts, and helped deliver the 2004 World Series Championship to Boston after 86 years (in case you didn’t know).

Continue reading Pedro Elected into Hall of Fame on First Try »

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Wesley Saunders (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Harvard

Record: 8–3 (2nd in Ivy League)

The Crimson got off to a good start in December, extending its win streak to six games with double-digit wins over Northeastern, Vermont and Boston University. The wheels came off, however, when Harvard visited #6 Virginia on December 21, a 76–27 dismantling that could not have been much uglier. Ten days later, the Crimson lost by 10 at Arizona State, but rebounded for a 13-point win over Grand Canyon to close out 2014. As the calendar turns, Harvard is once again in a tight battle with Yale for Ivy League supremacy. The Bulldogs currently have a half-game advantage but the Crimson has three games in hand.

Harvard ranks 32nd nationally in points allowed and 10th in blocks, but could be suffering from a lack of offensive options. The entire gameplan runs through shooting guard Wesley Saunders, who is averaging a team-high 17.7 points (9.1 more than any teammate) and 2.3 steals, and is second on the team in rebounds (6.1) and assists (4.1) per game. He has also been shooting the lights out at 52 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from beyond the arc. Continue reading College Basketball December Roundup: Gearing Up for Conference Play »

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steelers wild card

This weekend will present two wild card playoff games in the AFC. The Patriots will be awaiting their outcomes as the results will determine who they play in the divisional round. The third-seeded Steelers will play the sixth-seeded Ravens and the fourth-seeded Colts will host the fifth-seeded Bengals in win or go home Wild Card games.  Out of these four teams, the Patriots could not play the Steelers in the divisional round but could play any of the other three. They have yet to play the Steelers or Ravens this season but have beaten the Bengals and colds handily.

When it comes to who the Patriots should root for this weekend, there are a couple options. The first and most important thing to consider is who they will play. A secondary concern is which team will play Denver. If Denver plays a team that could beat them or at least give them a tough game, it could help the Patriots should they advance to the conference championship. Given these factors, the Patriots should be rooting for the Colts and Steelers this weekend. Continue reading Who the Patriots Should be Rooting for Wild Card Weekend »

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Jimmy Garoppolo had a chance at some extended playing time but was met by an aggressive Bills' defense. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

It is certainly refreshing to have a team so successful that the last game of the season is completely meaningless. Yes, it wasn’t the best 60-minutes of Patriots football, but it didn’t have to be. All that mattered was getting out of that game without any injuries and giving some players who normally don’t see actual game action the chance to see the field. Another bonus was the defense went yet another game without letting up a second half touchdown, which is impressive considering the Patriots’ B squad was going up against the Bills’ A squad.

- There is a little bit of worry with the back-ups along the offensive line. I am very confident in the usual starting five of Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, and Sebastian Vollmer. Yesterday both Connolly and Vollmer were out, and Solder didn’t play the entire time. We all saw a lot of Josh Kline, Marcus Cannon, and Cameron Flemming. Kline continues to look lost out there and we all should cross our fingers that Connolly doesn’t get hurt. I have little to no confidence with Kline protecting the blind side of Brady. Cannon has looked good when he’s subbing in and playing along side most of the starters. However yesterday he didn’t fair too much better than Kline. Again this is a small concern because it’s unlikely we’re going to see inexperienced lineman playing as long as the veterans are healthy.

Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 17: Bills Beat a Disinterested Patriots Team 17-9 »

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