It seemed almost the instant after the Ravens won on Sunday and clinched a spot in the AFC title game that rather than celebrate the accomplishment fans instead immediately began worrying about how the Ravens will ever manage to get past New England.
While exiting the stadium on Sunday after attending the first NFL Playoff game of my life (an experience that Rivals any sporting event I have ever been to) I could hear other fans saying things such as “Great, now we have to face New England” or “This team can’t keep up with Brady, they played horrible today”
The post-game thoughts by fans were no different on any social media site as it seemed that Ravens faithful were more concerned with how the Patriots were going to beat us than the win that had occurred just minutes prior.
But did the Ravens really do anything Sunday to make you think they can’t beat New England?
The Ravens scored 20 points on Sunday against Houston’s 2nd overall ranked defense while holding the Texans to a measly 13 points. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that 20 points won’t cut it against the Patriots if they want to have any chance of winning and advancing to the Super Bowl.
Or could it?
That was the score of Super Bowl XLII when the unbeaten New England Patriots who had put together one of the most impressive regular seasons since the Miami Dolphins went undefeated in 1972. That season New England led the league in scoring with close to 38 points per game while allowing only 17 points per game on defense yet they were upset by a middle of the pack offense and defense that got hot at the right time. Unlike the 2007 Pats, this year’s squad ranks 31st in total defense and give up close to 21 points a game.
It’s hard to describe New England’s defense as anything but just plain terrible. Never has a team gone through so many defensive backs as the Patriots have this year. They are so depleted in the secondary area that wide out/kick returner Julian Edelman has been playing corner when an opposing offense lines up in 3 and 4 wide out sets.
The Ravens can score points, we saw them eclipse 30 points 5 times this year and hit 29 once. We also know they can play up or down to the level of competition. The Patriots however did not beat a single team this year with a winning record while playing in one of the weakest divisions in football this year and still managed to finish with one of the league worst defenses. Contrast that with the Ravens who did not lose to a single team over .500 this year while finishing with the number 3 overall defense, all while playing in the AFC North – a division that boasted three playoff teams.
The formula is simple. Force Brady off the field on defense and then keep him off the field with a heavy rushing attack. This method worked last time these teams met in the playoffs and there is no reason why it won’t work again.
So don’t be surprised when the Ravens teach the Patriots and old lesson in why Defense has, and still can, win championships.