While breaking down tape of the recent Ravens games, a couple potential match-ups moved to the forefront of the game planning discussion.
First, the Patriots need to put cornerback Darrelle Revis on wide receiver Steve Smith. This is the type of receiver that Revis thrives against and is one that is too savvy for any other cornerback on the roster to defend.
Second, the Patriots need to keep cornerback Brandon Browner as far away from Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith as possible. Please. Pretty please.
The thought of a physical defender lining against Smith is a nice one; hitting him early in his route will knock him off his timing and for a big play receiver that's extremely important. But there's one major issue: penalties.
Torrey Smith leads the league in drawing defensive pass interference calls, picking up 11 flags for 229 yards. That's nearly twice the amount of the second ranked Jordy Nelson (6 for 129). Smith is key for Joe Flacco's heave-and-flag passing attack.
Brandon Browner, on the other hand, has been flagged the second most in the entire league and is the most flagged defender. He has been hit with five pass interference calls and four defensive holding penalties, a total of nine that is tied for 4th worst in the league behind the Browns Buster Skine, the Chargers Shareece Wright, and the Cardinals Patrick Peterson.
That match-up is a penalty waiting to happen; and if a flag is thrown it will likely be for a major gain. And when the importance of Ravens tight end Owen Daniels is factored in, assigning Browner to cover away from Smith isn't hiding from flags- it's redistributing resources.