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A tale of the tape: Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

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Boom Baby!  We gotta game.  I think it's fair to say this will be our toughest 2009 opponent to date.  Yeah, the Jets were no cakewalk, but they don't have the offense Baltimore has, sports fans.  Did I mention their total offense is #2 in the league?  Let's not forget #1 rushing D.  Hmm...  What to do, what to do.

Let me continue by saying it's hard to dispute that Joe Flacco, on a great day, couldn't hold a candle to a healthy, non-rusty Tom Brady.  I think that's obvious.  However, Mr. Bundchen is not non-rusty (2 negatives make a positive, btw).  He is struggling to get in sync with his receivers.  They go left, he throws right.  And don't get me started on Joey Galloway.  2 serious errors in the end zone against Atlanta helped account for our abysmal 1/5 in the red zone this past Sunday.  We also didn't have Wes Welker, the little engine that can.  Did I mention he's my favorite Patriot?  All for you, JHR, all for you. ;-)

Stats don't tell the whole story, but they do give us a basis for discussion and comparison.  Let's take a peek at  each team's past 3 opponents, shall we?  At the top of each table "cell" I'll place our team's opposing standing.  Ex: for Total O, I'll put our Total D.

Team
Total O Rushing O Passing O Total D Rushing D Passing D
Patriots

NE: 6
BUF: 17
NYJ: 20
FAL: 23

NE: 10
BUF: 9
NYJ: 11
FAL: 23
NE: 6
BUF: 24
NYJ: 25
FAL: 16
NE: 5
BUF: 28
NYJ: 3
FAL: 24
NE: 17
BUF: 18
NYJ: 9
FAL: 24
NE: 3
BUF: 28
NYJ: 5
FAL: 22
Ravens BAL: 7
KC: 30
SD: 8
CLE: 32
BAL: 1
KC: 22
SD: 31
CLE: 29
BAL: 17
KC: 28
SD: 2
CLE: 31
BAL: 2
KC: 21
SD: 14
CLE: 30
BAL: 5
KC: 19
SD: 26
CLE: 30
BAL: 5
KC: 20
SD: 8
CLE: 16

 

What is this telling us?

  • Our rushing O of 17 probably can't stand up to Baltimore's rushing D of 1.  However, they've played teams with questionable rushing O's to date.
  • We've played marginally better offenses than Baltimore.
  • Our Passing D of 6th is against below average passing offenses.
  • Baltimore's total offense of 2 is against below average total defenses.

Enough of that.  You can probably make your own observations.  So, what should we do, based on the stats?

  • Aerial Assault - Baltimore's passing defense is 17th even against mediocre passing offenses.  Fingers crossed, if Brady and his receivers get in sync, it's going to be a long day for Baltimore.
  • Limit Rushing - Baltimore's rushing offense of 5 is against average to pitiful rushing defenses, so take that ranking with a grain of salt.  Plug up the gaps, possibly with some solid blitzing and/or a 4-3 alignment and we should have some success.
  • Rushing to unbalance - Baltimore's rushing D of 1, while against mediocre opponents THIS year, is legit.  They've kept backs under 100 yards for like a zillion games.  We should use our backs to keep the Ravens' D off balance, not as a primary weapon.
  • Different Looks - A passing O of 5 was against decent passing defenses.  Joe Flacco has to be accounted for and I think the way to do that is with a number of different looks on our defense.  4-3-4, 2-4-5, 2-3-6, 3-2-6, 3-3-5... we've all seen Belichick throw the kitchen sink at an offense.  Let's hope it flusters Flacco.

What say you?  Is this an even matchup?  What would you do, based on the stats?  Are the stats even valid?