Patriots cannot overlook the Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens travel to Foxboro to face the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, but this isn’t a game the Patriots can overlook.

The New England Patriots (10-2) will host the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) in Week 14 for Monday Night Football. Both teams are looking for success the postseason, and this could very well be a preview to a future playoff game.

The last time the Ravens traveled to Foxboro was during the 2014 playoffs in the divisional round, which was arguably one of the best Patriots postseason games. Baltimore twice had 14-point leads, but the Patriots stormed back and went on to win 35-31 in a thriller.

This is a highly anticipated game due to the Patriots-Ravens rivalry. Of the last six games played between the two teams, four of them have been decided by less than 4 points (regular season and postseason).

The Patriots cannot afford to overlook these Ravens, who have been under the radar. Why?

They are under-the-radar 

The Ravens started the season 3-0 and then dropped four straight games. Most counted them out at the point due to how the team were performed. In their last 5 games, however, the Ravens have accumulated a 4-1 record, losing to the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.

Although they are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the lead in the AFC North, they hold the top seed as they hold tiebreakers within the division.

Answered questions on offense and defense

The Patriots have a lot of questions still on offense.

How will the offense play against a better defense? 

Is the defense for real or was last week’s performance based off the Rams less than stellar offense?

It was evident the last few weeks the offense isn’t as explosive as it was with their all-pro tight end on the field, however, one could point to Martellus Bennett’s injury as to why that is.

Bennett is still dealing with an ankle injury, and now an apparent shoulder injury, meaning the Patriots will be monitoring his snaps and targets. Luckily for the Patriots, they have a bunch of other playmakers that can help move the chains.

Last week against the Rams, the Patriots had a strong, dominating performance. The Rams offense could not move the ball, and had just 27 yards in the first half of the game. Whether the defense is finally for real or whether it was due to facing a rookie quarterback remains to be seen.

The Ravens offense hasn’t been amazing this year (ranked 17th in total offense), but this will prove as a their biggest test since playing the Seahawks in Week 10.

Home Sweet Home?

When playing these Ravens, there is no such thing as “home field advantage”. Baltimore has always given New England a hard time, but they are one of two teams to beat the Patriots in Foxboro at home during the playoffs during the Belichick-Brady era. (Ravens ’09 & ’12, Jets ’10).

As stated before, the Ravens almost beat the Patriots in the playoffs two seasons ago, but that was prevented thanks to some Tom Brady magic.

Ravens’ Defense Back

These are still the Ravens. Their defense may not be as talented as it was in the past, but they have quickly climbed to the top of the league’s defensive rankings this season. In four of their last five games, the Ravens have allowed no more than 14 points. They are also tied with the Patriots for 2nd in the NFL for points allowed per game (17.3).

Baltimore is also ranked 1st in the league in total defense (7th in passing, 1st in rushing). Also, Ravens defense coordinator Dean Pees, who spent five years with the Patriots (linebackers coach 2004-05, defense coordinator 2006-09) knows a thing or two about getting under Tom Brady’s skin.

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