I'll start off by saying that, I, do not know nearly as much about your team as you all do. But one thing I do know is football and I've seen ways to win games. This year I am cheering for the Patriots in the playoffs to beat the Ravens and the Colts or Jets, if they happen to face either. I sadly won't be cheering for the Pats against the Bengals nor the Chargers, as those are the AFC teams I really, really want to see make it to the Super Bowl. But let's not get ahead of ourselves because your Patriots are facing the Ravens this weekend.
I find that they are three key areas to the game if the Patriots want to win it, and I'm quite sure they do. There is also a smaller minor key area that I will get to after the other three are discussed.
Patriots Run Game vs. Ravens Run Game
I find that the team that rushes better and at the same time, stops the opposing teams rushing game will win this game. Ray Rice had an amazing season for the Ravnes this year and is one of the main reasons that the Ravens are in the playoffs to begin with. In their last meeting, the Patriots allowed Rice to have 152 yard from scrimmage, 103 being rush yards. But Rice is not a one man show and has Willis McGahee right along to help carry the load. But the Patriots have two guys coming back into action that are a key to stopping the run: Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren.
Stopping Baltimore's run game is key but in order to succeed and win this game, I believe the Patriots need to pound their run game into the game. If the Patriots succeed in running the ball, they will stand a higher chance of coming out of the game victiorus. Not to knock Tom Brady, because if the Pats run well, it stands a higher chance of Tom Brady not getting knocked around by the blitz-loving Ravens.
My Favorite Play
I don't know how many times I've seen that play, but I love it more each time I see it. (If you watch just the beginning of this video you can see it in a play-action sense against my Dolphins, a play that frustrated me but I loved it nonetheless.) And I find it to be a tool to winning the game. First off, it saves time. Besides the run game, I don't find Baltimore's offense to be too much of a threat and I'd rather see the Patriots defense handle them then I'd like to see Baltimore's defense handle the Patriots offense. The Ravens don't have as prolific as a defense as they did last year, the reason is beyond me (Rex Ryan?). But they still have a good defense. Seeing Ray Lewis come flying at Tom Brady is something that needs to be avoided. Play-action passes are perfectly executed by Brady, for example does anyone remember the Statue of Liberty play Brady pulled off vs. the Jaguars in 2007? Simply amazing. Tom Brady is a key to this game in the sense that how he plays will result in either a win or a loss. So key number two is Brady deep to moss or Brady play-action deep to moss or just Brady in general.
The Battle of the Offensive Lines
Sacks will be key in this game. Whichever team sacks the opposing quarterback more, will stand a higher chance at winning. The loss of yards in a sack can be huge, along with the loss of a down. If the Patriots defense is able to not only stop the run, but get to Joe Flacco, it will be a huge asset. In allowing sacks this season, the Patriots were ranked 3rd in the least amount allowed whereas the Ravens were 20th in sacks allowed with 36 being the allowed number. When it came to quarterback hits, Baltimore and New England were 19th and 20th, respectively with 72 and 70 being the hit amount. The Patriots have a better offensive line when it comes to protecting the quarterback, whereas Baltimore has a better o-line when it comes to rushing the ball. Both teams were pretty lowly when it came to sacking the quarterback, New England was tied for 9th least with 31 sacks while Baltimore was tied for 11th with 32. Pressure will help win this game and if New England can rise up as the defense of old, they will dominate the game.
Less Important but still Important Tools to the Game:
If you are going to the game, MAKE SOME NOISE! At the right time, a loud crowd can help their team out by frustrating the opposing team. The fans can also help their team out by being quite at the right time also. You guys have the home field and a team that was undefeated at home this season, use it to you advantage. I'm sure you all want this game as much as the players that play it, so help them out and do your part.
A pick off is crucial, it stops the other team right in their tracks and sends their offense to the bench. Tom Brady threw one more interception than Joe Flacco did this season, with 13 but the playoffs can be totally different. Using the tool above, Flacco may be frustrated and unable to make passes when he attempts them. If the Patriots secondary is alert, they should be able to pick him off and give Brady back the ball. But at the same time, Tom must be terrific and keep the interceptions in the regular season.
Alright, that's all I have. I'm not much of an expert on the Patriots nor the Ravens but I did what I could to give you guys some reading at the least. Get ready for the game, wear your gear, and get ready to have fun.
For this game to begin with, I'll say: GO PATRIOTS! but that might just be a one time deal ;)