It’s time for our weekly segment of Buy or Sell brought to you by Glen Burnie Motorsports. Each week, we pick three topics and let you know if we’re agreeing (buying) or disagreeing (selling) with the statement. Then, you vote and tell us what you think.
THE RAVENS WILL EXPLOIT THE PATS ON THE GROUND
The New England Patriots come to town “boasting” the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense, allowing 132.5 yards on the ground per game and 4.4 yards per carry. Even ignoring Knowshon Moreno’s monster 224-yard day against them in Week 12 the Patriots have still given up 4.3, 4.3, and 3.9 yards per rushing attempt over the past three games – they are absolutely vulnerable against the rush.
The Ravens on the other hand, have struggled to run the ball all season. They actually had some success against the Lions’ strong front on Monday night though, averaging 4.3 yards every time they ran it. The last time they saw a run defense as porous as the one New England brings to town was in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears, when Ray Rice had his best game of the season.
So what happens when the movable object meets the stoppable force? Will the Ravens pound it against the Pats?
BUY: The health of Ray Rice’s injured thigh could affect this quite a bit, but I’m inclined to think that the Ravens will indeed be able to run the ball Sunday. I think we’ll see more of Vonta Leach than we have since the Chicago game, and my hope is that he’ll be rested and ready to plow through some fools after taking just 24 snaps TOTAL over the past three games. Bernard Pierce had a nice run early in Detroit, but still dances around too much. In addition, even though we haven’t seen it since Joe Flacco complained about it, I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see the Wildcat pop up again.
THE RAVENS WILL CONTINUE TO OWN TOM BRADY
Tom Brady hates playing the Ravens. They remain the only team in the NFL against whom “Tom Terrific” has thrown more interceptions (10) than he has touchdowns (8). Joe Flacco has clearly outplayed him the past three teams these teams have met, with Flacco’s team winning the past two. Brady’s only played in Baltimore twice, and were it not for an ill-advised timeout by NON-HEAD COACH Rex Ryan, he would be 0-2 at the Big Crab Cake.
So will they have him crying in his Uggs once again?
SELL: There’s a bit of a difference between the Ravens teams that owned Brady and the one that will take the field Sunday – those teams had Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Brady was fearful of Reed in particular, and famously wrote “Find 20 on every snap” on his wristband before the 2011 AFC Championship Game. Ray would match wits with Brady up front, and Ed would be lurking in the back. While the 2013 Ravens may be more athletic without last year’s versions of 52 and 20 on the field, I’m thinking Brady will be able to take advantage of the relative inexperience of Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo, and bait them into some mistakes.
While Brady may have a better day statistically than he may be used to against the Ravens, will it be enough? That brings us to our final topic…
THE RAVENS WILL TAKE ANOTHER STEP TOWARD THE AFC NORTH CROWN
By the time they take the field, the Ravens will already know what the Cincinnati Bengals have done at home against the Minnesota Vikings. While the Vikings look resurgent after nearly toppling the Ravens and then pounding the Philadelphia Eagles, and will have Adrian Peterson back, Cincinnati is 6-0 at home and I expect them to bounce back after losing to Pittsburgh and improve to 10-5. Should they lose to fall to 9-6 though, the Ravens would still need to beat them next week to take the AFC North.
The Patriots lost last week in Miami, and they don’t lose two in a row often – they’ve lost back-to-back regular season games just four times over the last 10 years.
The Ravens don’t lose at home often – they’re 41-8 at M&T Bank Stadium in the Harbaugh/Flacco era, and they’ve also won 10 straight regular season home finales, the longest streak in the NFL.
Something’s gotta give. Will it break the Ravens’ way?
BUY: I’m putting my trust in the fact that the Ravens are just a better team at home (during the regular season, anyway). They’ll control the clock with the running game, move the chains will Dennis Pitta, and convert in the red zone better than they have in recent weeks. On defense, the momentum from holding Detroit’s high-powered attack to just 16 points will carry over, and the Patriots’ stable of slot receivers won’t faze a secondary that’s clicking on all cylinders.
Ravens 27 Patriots 20
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