By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will matchup against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night. Here’s the scouting report.
New England Patriots record: 1-1-0 (Tied for 1st in AFC East)
Both the Patriots and Ravens took tough losses in Week 2. New England will look to rebound against a Ravens’ defense that is susceptible to giving up the big play. However, the Patriots look to beat their opponent with methodical intermediate passes to drive into the endzone. The Patriots will take this approach against Baltimore. The Ravens are third in the NFL in sacks (six) so far this year. Expect to see a lot of three-step drops as the Pats try to get rid of the ball quickly.
Though the Eagles didn’t have a lot of success, the Ravens are easier to run on this year. Steven Ridley looks to be a major upgrade for the Patriots’ running game, after lacking such an attack in previous years. If the Ravens find a way to shut down Rob Gronkowski, it will be interesting to see if New England decides to call on Ridley’s number a bit more than usual.
The Patriots’ defense has improved dramatically in a season’s time. The Patriots held Kevin Kolb to 140 yards passing last week. That’s impressive, especially considering how porous their defense was just a season ago. The Pats will need more of the same if they hope to win this one. The Ravens will most likely return to the “sugar huddle” offense this week in hopes of keeping the pressure on a Patriots team that can score points in bunches. New England will try to use the same formula that the Eagles used by keeping Flacco uncomfortable in the pocket. If the Patriots can get to Flacco consistently, it will severely hamper the Ravens’ offense.
Ray Rice is averaging over six yards a carry so far this year, which is impressive. What’s even more astonishing is Baltimore’s hesitance to use the small back to over power defenses. The Patriots have played the Ravens many times in recent years; they know that this offense runs through Ray Rice. If Ray Rice is having success, it takes so much pressure away from Flacco to make things happen. Look for the Patriots to put the ball in the hands of Flacco by attempting to take Rice out the game.
Bill Belichick knows how to prepare for football games. He is rarely outcoached. In fact, it may be one of the reasons why the Ravens have never defeated the Patriots in the regular season (6-0). Look for the coach to take away the best player on both sides of the ball. That means taking Ray Rice out of the game and throwing the ball away from Ed Reed. If the Ravens can have success without these two players, they stand a good chance to win on Sunday.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.