Will Rice have the same success he did last January in Foxborough?
Baltimore (4-1) @ New England (3-1): Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Coach: Bill Belichick
Another challenge for the Ravens, as they go on the road to face the Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Historically, the Patriots have a strong record coming off the ‘bye’ and the Ravens have proven they are a road tested team this year. Though the Ravens have not won a regular season game in New England, they played a close game in their match-up last year. In their second meeting, a playoff contest, the Ravens won convincingly.
QB Tom Brady is putting up good numbers as usual with 911 yards, 9 TD’s and 2 INT.s’. WR Randy Moss was traded away, but the team acquired WR Deion Branch (Seahawks). Branch “played in New England from 2002 to 2005 and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX.”
The Ravens secondary will be challenged in this game. The Patriots pose a number of playmakers with WR Wes Welker, rookie tight end Arron Hernandez, WR Julian Edelman, WR Brandon Tate and rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski. There is more balance this year with the run. On the ground the RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is beginning to emerge as a solid threat with 215 yards, 4.6 yard ave. The offense is ranked first with 32.8 points scored per game.
On defense the team has young talent with rookie CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, and CB Darius Butler but has it’s challenges ranked 28th against the pass, allowing 272.2 yards per game. Safety Patrick Chung has 2 interceptions and has excelled in special teams. Upfront, the team is more consistent against the run. Veteran NT Vincent Wilfork is a force and ILB Jared Mayo (30 tackles, 13 assists, 1 sack) is a talent who attacks the line of scrimmage. The run defense is ranked 20th against the run (112.2 yards per game).
WR Wes Welker vs. CB Chris Carr: Containing Welker is a priority. Welker has 26 receptions for 217 yards, 8.3 yds/rec.
Ravens DB’s or LB’s? vs. TE Aaron Hernandez: The rookie Hernandez might be one of the most explosive receivers for the Patriots. Hernandez leads the team with 240 receiving yards, 13.3 yds/rec. Will the Ravens use a linebacker to cover Hernandez? Or will they adopt a strategy like they did against Denver where they used 5 defensive backs? An option would be Chris Carr or Josh Wilson.
WR Anquan Boldin vs. CB Devin McCourty: Cam Cameron will likely test the rookie cornerback.
RB Ray Rice vs. ILB Jerod Mayo: The Patriots allow an average of 112.2 rushing yards a game (20th). Mayo is a talented linebacker. Should be a good match-up.
NT Vincent Wilfork vs. O-line: Wilfork can disrupt the run game, the O-line will be look to slow down the experienced nose tackle.
Ray Lewis vs. QB Tom Brady & RB Green-Ellis: Ray Lewis will have his work cut out for him try to read Brady and getting after the Patriots running back.
OLB Suggs vs. LT Matt Light: Suggs has had some success against the Patriots in both match-ups last year. The Patriots O-line have only given up 5 sacks this season.
Ravens Coverage vs. KR Brandon Tate: Tate has had 2 TD returns. He is averaging 33.4 yards a return, had a long of 103 yards. K Billy Cundiff will be counted to continue his deep kick-offs for touchbacks.
WHO MAKES THE HIGHLIGHT FILM:
Jonathan Scruggs: Ray Rice
“Last year against the Patriots, Rice ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns. If the Ravens hope to break the Patriots post bye-week winning streak, they will need to establish the run game early and often.”
Matt Jergensen: Terrell Suggs
“Suggs has had a strong start to the season and he needs to come up with a big game with this weekend to put the heat on Tom Brady. The Ravens were able to confuse and dominate the Pats last January but they must get to the quarterback. Can they finally break the turnover drought?”
Gene Winner: Q
“Anquan Boldin may have the advantage in this game being matched up against the young Patriots cornerbacks.”
INJURY RELATED NEWS:
“RB Fred Taylor (toe) has seemingly gone in the wrong direction in terms of health. Though limited in previous weeks with the injury, Taylor didn’t make the Wee 4 trip to Miami to take on the Dolphins and was unable to practice during the bye week.” http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl
“The Pats today placed offensive lineman Nick Kaczur on IR, ending his 2010 season. Newly re-acquired wide receiver Deion Branch has taken Kaczur’s spot on the 53-man roster.”