By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens have set themselves up quite nicely for a chance at something special here in Week 16. If they win their next two games, they win the AFC North. Up next, the always challenging New England Patriots. Here’s the scouting report:
Patriots on Offense:
When you think of the Patriots, you think of Tom Brady. The Patriots QB has always been about winning football games. And this year, more than any other year, he’s had to do it with a very limited cast of players around him. Tom Brady will be out his star TE Rob Gronkowski for this match-up as he tore his ACL a few weeks ago. That has made this less than potent in the red-zone.
The loss of Wes Welker in the off-season also makes this offense a tad bit more pedestrian than in previous years. But make no mistake about it, this offense is still dangerous with Tom Brady behind center. Even with a limited cast, Brady has the ability to attack the weakness of a defense ad nauseam until the unit breaks. His quick release of the football makes it very difficult for the defensive front to get a hand on him and that what’s makes the battle at the line of scrimmage so important in the upcoming game.
Though the passing game is one the Ravens will most assuredly need to keep an eye on, their rushing attack has been less than stellar. Unlike the past couple of seasons, the Patriots running game has let them down a great deal with turnovers and lack of production at the running back position. Last week, New England wasn’t to get much going with either Steven Ridley or LeGarret Blount. Both players were taken out of the game against the Dolphins and it was one of the reasons New England came up short in that contest. Against the Ravens, New England will try to keep Baltimore honest with a consistent rushing attack. Though the Patriots have struggled running the football lately, they’re still ranked 12th overall running the football. If Baltimore can keep them one dimensional, it’ll be a very long day for Tom Brady.
Patriots on Defense:
The one thing that has kept New England from reaching their full potential this year has been the play of their defense. Particularly, their secondary has struggled against opposing offenses. It creates an interesting match-up against Joe Flacco. The Ravens didn’t take advantage of the Lions porous secondary on Monday in Detroit. They’ll need to play things a lot differently against the Patriots. Even though this game will be played in Baltimore, field goals will not be enough to stop the Patriots. One thing that the Patriots do extremely well is take away the biggest threat from the opposing team. That may be Ravens TE Dennis Pitta -he can be quite a handful in the red-zone. And with the Ravens recent struggles to get into the end-zone, Baltimore may have to lean on some of the other receivers to get the job done.
The New England Patriots are a two-headed monster: Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick. Coupled with Tom Brady, Belichick has won three Super Bowl Championships out of five appearances during his time with New England. Including the playoffs, the Patriots hold a 7-3 All-Time record against the Baltimore Ravens.
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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. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.