Mike Reiss picks out five things he'll be focused on Sunday night.
1. Retooled passing attack? The Patriots lost not only the game in Week 2, but also their most versatile offensive weapon in tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is expected to miss Sunday's contest with an ankle injury. With Hernandez out and Deion Branch and Kellen Winslow in, the Patriots might feature a retooled passing attack. Branch is well-versed in Josh McDaniels' system, having spent the entire offseason picking it up, but Winslow presents sort of an unknown, as he'll have had just three days of practice under his belt before kickoff. Beyond the immersion of these two into the game plan, it's worth monitoring how the Patriots structure their passing attack as a whole. Could Hernandez's absence result in a bigger role for Wes Welker?
2. Speaking of Welker ... Although he saw an uptick in his snaps during Week 2, the role Welker will play in Week 3 and going forward remains a storyline of note. His increased workload last week could have been a direct result of the Hernandez injury or a part of the team's game plan, which is subject to change by the week. Might Welker reassume a role we witnessed him in during 2011 and previous seasons this week, now that the Patriots are shuffling parts on offense? Or will he continue to play a role similar to what we've seen in the first two weeks of the season? Thus far, Welker has been used to push the field vertically quite a bit, and less so as an at- or near-the-line-of-scrimmage receiver catching bubble and tear screens. Perhaps the team could re-employ Welker in that role, as early as this week.
3. Defending the no-huddle. Yes, the team that receives more attention for its no-huddle/up-tempo offensive attack in this matchup is certainly the Patriots, but the Ravens have found life and production out of their no-huddle offense this season. Weapons of note include wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, and tight end Dennis Pitta, who often aligns split out and has been targeted more than any other tight end thus far in football. Never to be overlooked is running back Ray Rice, a dynamic receiver and runner out of the backfield.
4. Beware of middle of Ravens defense. Bill Belichick made it clear during his Wednesday news conference that three players -- defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed -- fortify the middle of the Ravens' defense. The coach has been particularly effusive in his praise of Reed in the past but stressed that all three, and the Ravens' defense as a whole, compose an extremely formidable group. The interior of the Cardinals' defensive line was disruptive this past Sunday, and the Patriots will need to be strong across the offensive line to ensure that Tom Brady has ample time to throw.
5. Handling a hostile environment. Traveling to Baltimore isn't easy for any opponent, as the Ravens boast one of football's most boisterous home crowds, which likely will escalate its support under the lights of a nationally televised, prime-time game. The Patriots, in particular their offense, will be forced to deal with the ambient crowd noise, which could lead Tom Brady & Co. to rely on nonverbal communication at the line of scrimmage. Oddly enough, despite the number of marquee matchups between the two teams in recent seasons, the Patriots have traveled to Baltimore just once to face the Ravens, a 27-24 victory in 2007. They'll look for a repeat result this Sunday.
- Patriots-Ravens Thursday Injury Report.
- Erik Scalavino notes Kellen Winslow needs to catch up fast, and shares some Thursday notes from Gillette.
- Erik Scalavino tells us what happened Thursday at Gillette.
- Kerry J. Byrne writes about the Patriots dynasty and the greatest display of clutch kicking in NFL history.
- Patriots Today - Rice capable of football fireworks. (3.45 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Thursday practice report. (1.02 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Match-up of the Week. (2.54 min. video)
- Locker Room Uncut - Kellen Winslow checks in. (3.20 min. video)
- Tom E. Curran believes the Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees will try to jam the Patriots system.
- Matt Chatham isn't buying the 'new' Joe Flacco-led Ravens offense and thinks they won't use it against the Pats. Game tape shows he's still quite pick-able.
- Julian Benbow sees Joe Flacco aiming for the elite level.
- Mike Petraglia notes TE Kellen Winslow knew exactly what he was getting into when he agreed to come to play for the Patriots this week.
- Tom Layman says the defense will have its hands full with the Ravens' Ray Rice.
- Greg Bedard and Jermaine Wiggins break down what the Patriots can do to slow down Baltimore Sunday night. (2.41 min. video)
- Tedy Bruschi gives Baltimore an edge over a New England team still trying to figure it out.
- Shalise Manza Young previews the Patriots-Ravens Game 3 matchups. (4.52 min. video)
- Mike Petraglia notes Chandler Jones says he's just focusing on this game, not his brothers this weekend.
- Shalise Manza Young writes this is a big weekend for Chandler Jones and his family.
- Phil Perry notes Tavon Wilson will have the chance to play in front of family and friends when he gets to Baltimore on Sunday.
- Jeff Howe focuses on how deep the Aaron Hernandez' void is and how the Patriots will look to fill it.
- Jeff Howe examines the four receivers who got the brunt of the work in the 4 games Aaron Hernandez has missed since 2010.
- Christopher Price reports Kellen Winslow understands the burden of trying to replace Aaron Hernandez.
- Christopher Price takes a look at the Patriots no-huddle, and says they're using it roughly the same as they did last season.
- Phil Perry notes the Patriots are concerned with Joe Flacco, who is sure to test the secondary.
- Tom E. Curran notes Bill Belichick praised the work of Steve Sabol and trusted the man implicitly too.
- ESPNBoston presents a Pats-Ravens prediction roundup. Yeesh. All Ravens.
- Jim Lazar is 'talkin' about practice' before making his Week 3 picks: Pats over Ravens 20-16.
- Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Kellen Winslow has a lot to learn in his first week on the job; Winslow picked the Pats because they use TEs 'the way they should be used'; Practice squad S Cyhl Quarles is emulating (as best he can) Ed Reed and Bernard Pollrd on the scout team defense; Pats replaced WR Kerry Taylor with WR Greg alas on the practice squad.
- Field Yates reports NFL Analyst Ron Jaworski explains how the Cardinals defense was able to confuse Tom Brady.
- Albert Breer (NFL.com) Week 3 predictions: Will Patriots reincorporate Wes Welker? Ravens over Pats 23-20.
- Experts (ESPN) Week 3 picks: 11 out of 12 pick Ravens over Pats. Mike Ditka the lone believer.
- Jason La Canfora (CBS Sports) Game rankings: Week 3 menu. Pats at Ravens at the top of the order.
- Ben Austro (Nat'l Football Post) Officially, the NFL has a problem.
VIEW FROM BALTIMORE
- Matt Vensel (Baltimore Sun) Breaking down Sunday night's Ravens-Patriots game.
- Aaron Wilson (Baltimore Sun) Ravens respectful of hard-running Stevan Ridley.
- Garrett Downing (BaltimoreRavens.com) Ravens preparing for TE Rob Gronkowski.
- Aaron Wilson (Baltimore Sun) Remarkable weekend lies ahead for Arthur Jones and his athletic family.
- Jeff Seidel (CSN Baltimore) Defense looks for stops versus Pats.
- Aaron Wilson (Baltimore Sun) Ravens' Dean Pees on facing Patriots: "I'm not going to lie, it's a big game for me."
- Garrett Downing (BaltimoreRavens.com) Ed Reed ingrained in Tom Brady's mind.
- Sarah Ellison (BaltimoreRavens.com) Would Flacco admit if injury affected performance.
- J.Michael (CSN Baltimore) Brady lauds Pollard.
- Edward Lee (Baltimore Sun) Bernard Pollard sounds off on replacement officials.
- Sarah Ellison (BaltimoreRavens.com) Ravens Notebook: NFL issues warning about treatment of replacement refs; and More.
- Ryan Mink (BaltimoreRavens.com) Cam Cameron stands behind play calling.
- Kevin Cowherd (Baltimore Sun) Ravens vs. Patriots: Sun staff picks.