The Patriots come to Baltimore for a Sunday night showdown. Will the Ravens prove themselves legit contenders in the AFC? Or will Brady & The Hoody show Lamar Jackson that he still has plenty of growing to do?
RSR staff predict what we’ll see here…
The Ravens field the No. 2 ranked offense in the league while the Patriots have the second best defense. Flipping the tables, the Patriots offense is 16th best in the league while the Ravens defense also comes in at No. 16. The Patriots average 31.3 points per game, a league best followed closely by the Ravens at 30.6.
John Harbaugh & Co. enter the game well-rested after the bye and that usually means good things are in store for the Ravens who are 9-2 following the break under Harbs. And if that weren’t enough, the Ravens are 12-1 during home prime time games during the Harbaugh era.
All signs point towards a close football game, after which no Ravens player will offer up G.O.A.T. gifts to Tawmmy Boy as if he was the second coming. He doesn’t appreciate them anyway. See for yourself…
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) October 29, 2019
Here’s how I see it playing out…
• While the two teams on average combine to score 62 points per game, they’ll just get beyond half that total in this fast game that finishes in under 3 hours. Fans throughout America rejoice because it means less Cris Collinsworth slobbering over Tom Brady.
• The Patriots have feasted on turnovers and sport a league-leading +17 ratio. Turnovers will happen in this contest but they’ll be split evenly at 2.
• A Josh McDaniels gadget play will suck the Ravens in and cost them 7.
• The Patriots give up 85.3 YPG by ground. The Ravens will more than double that.
• Julian Edelman will attract attention but it will be Phillip Dorsett who will eclipse the 100-yard receiving mark.
• At least once the Patriots will get a favorable call and the “manure” chant (see Tweet below) will echo throughout the country.
• The Ravens will outgain the Patriots by 100 yards but it will come down to the kicking game. The Patriots just signed a guy in Nick Folk who hasn’t kicked since 2017 and even then he was only 6 of 11 in FGAs. After he misses a kick to tie the game and send it into overtime, Ravens fans, remembering Billy Cundiff will say, “He Folked it!” The Patriots and their fans will be screaming, “What the Folk?”
Number 8 ends the Patriots 2019 win streak at 8.
Ravens 20, Patriots 17
Last time the Patriots came to Baltimore for Sunday Night Football 😈 pic.twitter.com/nlm0BjyEG0
— Jordan Hoffman (@MattyBoh10) October 31, 2019
— This is a game where the Ravens need to play solid, mistake-free football for 60 minutes. The Patriots make teams pay for mistakes. Last week, Cleveland had three turnovers in the first quarter, which basically handed the game to New England. The Patriots opened a 17-0 lead and never looked back. The Ravens cannot beat themselves. New England leads the NFL with 25 takeaways (19 interceptions, six fumbles).
— Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been solid protecting the football and making plays at critical times. He’s the type of player that rises to the occasion and this is ONE of the biggest games of his young career. Jackson will run as many times as needed if he sees opportunities. He will also have Marquise Brown back in the lineup to stretch the field. The Patriots will try to keep him bottled up in the backfield and force mistakes.
— The Ravens have the league’s No. 1 rushing offense and will need maintain that momentum against the Patriots, who are allowing just 85.3 yards per game on the ground. Baltimore needs to keep Tom Brady off the field because a shootout clearly favors the Patriots.
— Both teams have some of the top coaches in the NFL. This will be a cat-and-mouse game from beginning to end. The Ravens surely have some strategies in their playbook specifically geared toward this game.
— I hate to say this, but officiating will likely play a huge part of this mathcup. Remember 2007? No one wants to see a repeat of that. The Ravens have already been on the wrong side of some questionable calls.
— This is going to be an epic battle and will be decided by one score. In the end, Brady’s experience will be the difference.
Patriots 28, Ravens 24
I bet against our purple birds two weeks ago, and Lamar made me eat some delicious crow. I won’t do it again…at least not this week.
There’s just something about giving John Harbaugh & his staff extra time to prepare that results in good things. Just think about all the Week 1 drubbings this team has laid on their opponents over the year. Similarly, 9-2 after the bye is no joke (should be 10-1…remember the Elvis Dumervil penalty and untimed down on the final play?), and that’s with an average margin of victory of 10 points.
I’m not saying the Ravens are head and shoulders above the Pats, nor are they “the team to beat” in the AFC.
But on Sunday, they’ll look like they are.
Ravens 26 Patriots 17
The Ravens are coming off of a bye week, and historically under John Harbaugh, they have enjoyed success in these cases. Opposite of last season, when the team limped into the bye week 4-5, losing to the Steelers and losing Joe Flacco to a hip injury, the team is in a much better spot, coming off a huge win in Seattle and heading into the off week 5-2 and ahead in the division.
I do think offensively speaking, the Seahawks presented a bit bigger of a challenge so there’s reason for optimism heading into this matchup with the undefeated Pats. Defensively, however, they are on a historic pace and present easily the toughest challenge for Lamar Jackson. It is fair to point out they haven’t faced a tough offense yet, but the numbers cannot he ignored.
Now to the bold predictions. I’m admittedly not great at these because i try to keep things as realistic as possible. But forget it, let’s throw them out there:
— Marquise Brown returns from injury and hauls in 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s facing outstanding corners, so i think this is bold.
— The Ravens force 3 patriots turnovers and will take advantage of it, turning them into at least 17 points.
— Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith will both haul in an interception.
That’s it for my predictions, but there’s still a score to predict. Ultimately, i think the Ravens give the Patriots everything they can handle, but come up just a play or two short.
Patriots 27 Ravens 24
— Lamar Jackson has the chance to prove that he is a true MVP candidate and that the Ravens are here to stay. He won’t do anything spectacular per the stat sheet, but he’ll have a number of spectacular plays that become the difference and keep the Ravens around.
— The rushing attack is downright dominant, with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill rushing for over 200 combined yards. Hill finally breaks off a long TD on a draw play.
– The passing game is slowed, but the offense still manages to sustain drives and score nearly double the most the Pats have given up all season.
– The defense stands tall all game. They don’t get many sacks, just 1 for Matt Judon and 1 for Jihad Ward, but they keep the running backs from breaking off long receptions and stop the run well.
– Tom Brady tosses a key interception on a deep ball that he underthrows. Earl Thomas undercuts it and it sets up a key two-possession lead early in the second quarter.
– The Patriots miss a field goal that ends up being very costly.
Ravens 27 Patriots 21
This matchup has so many battles within the battle.
Wink Martindale vs. Tom Brady
Greg Roman vs. Belichick and co.
Marquise Brown vs. Stephon Gilmore
Julian Edelman vs. Marlon Humphrey? (Wishful thinking, id have Marlon shadow him and bludgeon him at the line of scrimmage)
This game will largely come down to these matchups and a few other things.
The Pats defense has been stellar, especially against the pass, but do show some cracks of vulnerability against the run. The Ravens just don’t have the horses to challenge this pass defense so unlike the Kansas City game earlier this yr, they’ll unload the run playbook and take selective shots in the passing game. Ingram, Edwards and Hill will benefit from the Patriots selling out to keep Lamar Jackson from getting free in the run game and they’ll combine for 175 yards.
Hill will be freed as a an all purpose threat and break off a long catch and run for a TD.
Quiet as it’s been kept, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense haven’t really played that well. Look for Wink Martindale to keep that trend going with cobbled up pressure and the ability to key in more on the run with the Patriots being void of game breaking pass-catching talent.
Ravens 23 Patriots 20
On Sunday night Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the “Boogeymen” come to the Bank for primetime football. As Tom Brady’s career appears to be winding down, Lamar Jackson’s is just getting started. Jackson was just four years old when Brady made his first start and recently referred to Brady as “the GOAT of GOATs.” The Ravens are the underdogs, as they should be, but the Patriots are not unbeatable.
On offense the Ravens cannot afford to turn over the ball. The Patriots are going to likely change their defensive strategy going against Jackson. Their weakness lies in the Ravens strength, which is the run game. I expect a heavy dose of Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards along with a few designed runs for Jackson. In the passing game the Patriots have been excellent taking away the long ball. The Ravens should counter their defense by attacking the soft spots in the middle of the field with slants and crossing routes. Also let Mark Andrews and Willie Snead work the seams. I do expect Greg Roman to test the deep ball when they are in man coverage and the receivers need to go make the play.
On defense the Ravens match up well with the Patriots. Wink’s first goal will be to stop the run. Then use Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith to shrink the field for Brady. The matchup to watch will be how the linebackers and safeties contain Julian Edelman and James White when Brady attacks the middle of the field. Play assignment football and make the tackle before they can break off a big play.
The big edge in this game is on special teams. The Ravens feature the best kicker in the game with Justin Tucker and the Patriots just signed Nick Folk, who hasn’t kicked in the NFL since 2017 when he made 54.5% of his field goals.
Ultimately, that’s the difference in this game and why the Ravens end the Patriots’ win streak.
Ravens 20 Patriots 17
I haven’t been this excited about a regular season game since the Rex Ryan timeout game against this same Patriots team.
The most interesting part of this game is seeing what Bill Belichick has in store for Lamar Jackson. Lamar has proven that he can beat teams in a myriad of different ways so ol’ Billy will have his work cut out for him. My gut tells me that Lamar will have a rough start as he adjusts to what the Patriots throw at him, but will come on in the second half to put some points on the board as the Ravens pound the ball against a Patriots’ rush defense that can be taken advantage of.
The main reason I love the Ravens here is on the back of their defense and what promises to be a raucous home crowd. The Patriots offense doesn’t scare me against this Ravens’ secondary and I think they’ll get just enough pressure on her majesty to get him off his spot and rush him into some bad throws. I look for a low-scoring first half, followed by the Ravens pulling away late. Ravens win outright.
It’ll be the “World’s Largest Insane Asylum 2.0” this Sunday and as Bart Scott said, “Can’t wait!”
Baltimore is 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games, but 6-1 ATS in their last 7 as an underdog. The Patriots are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games.
My Pick: Baltimore +3.5
The must-watch game of the week will also be its most interesting match up. The Patriots have looked borderline unstoppable through eight games, and they win in so many different ways that is hard to find a flaw. Meanwhile the Ravens have been going through the motions of a reloading team, but they are finding ways to win games, thus making them a contender in the weaker AFC. The Ravens have been extremely good coming off of a bye in the Harbaugh era, but I think it is important to remain objective when facing the Patriots.
The Patriots offense hasn’t been as high-powered as it has been the past three years, but it is still one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The major weakness has been the offensive line, where they have struggled at Left Tackle with starter Isaiah Wynn going down to injury, and star center David Andrews being lost before the season started to blood clots. This is an advantage that the Ravens should capitalize on, but they don’t have the personnel to do so. Don Martindale is going to have to coach an excellent game to keep Brady on his toes and give this vaulted secondary a chance. Brady will have a stat line hovering around 250 passing yards with two scores. As for the run game, I expect the Patriots would want to limit the amount of possessions Jackson has, thus giving Sony Michel and James White 75 yards on the ground each, with both scoring a TD as well.
The best matchup is Belichick versus Lamar Jackson. Typically, the Patriots have always done a terrific job of making the opposing team think they are at a pre-snap disadvantage (schematically or personnel-wise), thus forcing them to make an adjustment, which plays in their favor. This makes the other team’s QB make silly mistakes, and this defense has done a great job maximizing those mistakes. The Patriots are stacked at every position on defense, so if they want to make Lamar win via the air, they have the match up advantage, and if they wanted them to win on the ground, they also have the advantage. I just don’t feel good about Lamar’s chances versus the mind of Belichick, no matter how good of a game Greg Roman calls. Lamar will throw three interceptions to no touchdowns, while only managing 75 yards on the ground. Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram will fight for a touch 150 yards on the ground, but they will stay out of the end zone.
I would not be completely shocked if I am dead wrong with this prediction, as we have seen the Ravens win games where they should have no shot from the get go before. At the same time, my bold prediction is the Ravens show that they aren’t quite ready to compete for a title yet, against what appears to be the best team in the NFL.
Patriots 28 Ravens 9