The Patriots look to carry their momentum from their big win against the Dolphins into Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens. Let’s hope that momentum is still there after having a bye last week and after trading one of their big guns, Randy Moss. This week is certainly going to be a tough matchup for the Patriots. The Ravens have always been known for their defense and are currently ranked as the 3rd best defense in the NFL. Not to mention they currently have the 2nd toughest pass defense and that is without stud safety Ed Reed. That being said, who is Tom Brady going to throw the ball to? Randy Moss is not there anymore, yet Welker is, but the rest of the WRs are all young and somewhat inexperienced. I think the Patriots really made a poor decision in trading top WR Moss for a couple of draft picks and are going to be seeing the consequence as early as this week. What would have separated the Patriots from this strong defense is a fast deep threat than can go up and get the ball. Since he is not there, I think they are in a lot of trouble. Everyone knows the trade of Moss was a big deal and we could argue whether it was a good or bad decision for weeks, but let’s move on. Brady is going to have to break down this strong defense in a bunch of different ways. I think their best bet is to throw a ton of short balls for small gains. Welker will be targeted a ton in this game and should see a lot of touches. Rookie TE Aaron Hernandez will also be a big part of the passing game this week and the rest of the season. I think the Patriots will be successful in having long methodical drives, but I don’t know if they will be able to open up and stretch the field with no deep threat. I mean I know they have the young and talented Brandon Tate, but at this point he has not really become that go to guy that will beat corners downfield. After a few series, the Ravens will start to press the Patriots receivers and really force them to beat their d-backs deep which I don’t think they will be able to do. I see Brady throwing at least a pick or two and becoming quite frustrated with this pass offense he is now leading. On a higher note, the Ravens have given up just over 100 yards per game on the ground. That being said, the Patriots really have to utilize their running game and get Green-Ellis a lot of touches. I think with the way he has been running the Patriots should hand the ball to him 20-24 times this game instead of only 16. They really need to establish a good run game against this defense if they want to have any success in passing the ball. As for the Patriots defense, they just came off a huge game with Patrick Chung being the man. He blocked two kicks and returned a pick for a TD last game against the Dolphins. The defense as a whole did a great job shutting down a pretty versatile Dolphins offense and I think they have the capability in doing that this week against Flacco and this powerful Ravens offense. Ray Rice is a stud and is going to be tough to stop, but even if they keep him under 100 yards, that is a good thing. Flacco has a tendency to make poor decisions against the blitz and has already thrown 6 picks to his 5 TDs. He can be beat and if the Patriots defense wants to shut him down they need to blitz often and early. Then start to back off and really confuse Flacco. They can also stack the box early and shut down Rice which will force Flacco to start making some passes, and once this happens they can hide their LBs and put them into coverage. This will really make things difficult for Flacco and force him to make a few errors. One problem with all this is that Flacco loves to dump the ball off to Rice once he becomes pressured or when he cannot find any open receivers. This will be tough to cover for the Patriots since they don’t really have any viable options to spy on Rice throughout the game. This week is not going to be easy and personally I think the Patriots are outmatched on both sides of the ball. They may be able to hang in there for a quarter or two, but after that I see the Ravens really breaking free. The Ravens have too many weapons on offense and their defense is extremely tough to beat especially with no deep threat. I see the Ravens winning this one 27-13.
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Written by David Reid