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The Patriots will have their hands full with this beastly Ravens defense

The Baltimore Ravens will come into Monday Night Football against the Patriots as statistical leaders in almost every defensive category.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After suffering a "Are you freaking KIDDING me?!?" number of injuries that sent a record number of players to Injured Reserve last year (possibly the Curse of DeflateGate? Maybe? Maybe not. Just saying!), the Baltimore Ravens are back with a vengeance with a cool 7-5 record, and roll into Gillette Stadium for a Monday night Rumble in the Jungle that they've no doubt had circled on their calendars since training camp.

By "Rumble in the Jungle", of course, we mean "Rumble in the freezing cold and maybe some rain/snow/gross mix of rain and snow" - the type of conditions that tend to favor stout defensive teams.

So, since New England's been riding the whole bend-but-don't-break, we-give-up-yards-but-not-touchdowns horse all season long, it's worth taking a look at the Baltimore Ravens defense and how they're faring so far this-

(drops grande cold brew on floor)

The 2016 Ravens are top-5, or top-10 at worst, in basically every defensive statistic you can think of.

It sounds absurd on paper, because these aren't the Ravens that gave offensive coordinators wake-up-screaming nightmares for the better part of two decades.  There's no Ed Reed, no Haloti Ngata, no Ray Lewis (on the field or on your television anymore, thank the Lord), no Pernell McPhee, no Bernard Pollard, and no Rex Ryan calling the shots.  You'd be forgiven for looking at these guys and thinking "Who's even on this defense besides Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle?"

Apparently, a lot of angry dudes that are putting up excellent defensive stats, no matter how you slice it.

About that points allowed thing, which Patriots Nation has seized on as the saving grace of the 2016 Patriots defense - New England currently ranks third in the NFL, allowing a mere 17.2 points a game.

The Baltimore Ravens are dead even with the Pats, also allowing 17.2 points per game.  Only the Seahawks, at 16.2 points per game, are better.

As our fearless leader Rich Hill noted earlier this week, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount is looking to set a few career records against the Ravens, including his own season record for yards and he could DOUBLE his season record for touchdowns.

One tiny problem: Baltimore also is a brick wall in the front-seven, allowing a mere 73.8 rushing yards per game.  That's good enough for first in the league by almost ten whole yards per game (Dallas is in second, allowing 82.2 yards per game).

But, OK, the Patriots will run out of the tunnel on Monday night with the best quarterback in the league slinging the rock, right?

Right.  Problem is, Baltimore's pass defense may be the worst part of their defense - and it's still ranked seventh in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.  The Ravens are 7th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, despite not boasting anything close to the "shutdown" corners everyone wants - only Denver, Jacksonville (what??), Arizona, Minnesota, Houston, and Chicago (again, what??) are allowing fewer passing yards per game.  You know how a "good" quarterback performance these days basically means a 300+ yard day?  The Ravens are only allowing 222.2 per game.

Put those two together, and, yup, you guessed it, Baltimore is #1 in the league in total yards allowed per game.

Remember the part in Star Wars where they get stuck in the garbage compactor, and Leia goes "Things could be worse", and then that octopus thing comes out, and Han goes "...It's worse"?

Yeah, that's the part we've gotten to now.

The Patriots are loving their much-improved offensive line, and this will be one of the better tests they'll probably face this year.  Baltimore's ranked 12th in the NFL in sacks, with 28 on the year, but it's worth noting that the difference between the Ravens and 4th-ranked Minnesota, the defensive darlings of the first quarter of the season, is a mere 3 sacks.  The Vikings have 31.

How about the secondary?  The Ravens are the definition of average in passes defended with 64, which is good for 16th in the league, but at least part of that is because they're not just knocking down passes, they're stealing them, too.  Baltimore's in a three-way tie for second in the NFL in picks, deadlocked with the Bengals and Chiefs with 14 interceptions, and only the Chargers, somehow, have more picks than any of those three, with 15.

And as you might expect from a John Harbaugh unit and a franchise that's known for a punishing defense, when the Ravens hit, they're hitting hard - they're tied for 10th in the NFL in forced fumbles, with 13 on the year.  In other words, they're basically forcing at least one turnover just from tackling hard every game in 2016.

Throw in a decade-plus of bad blood between the Ravens and the Patriots, going all the way back to Baltimore almost ruining New England's undefeated regular season in 2007, and, you know what?  It'd probably be OK if you take some time on Sunday to get some Christmas shopping done.

The best game of the week is after we all get out of work and have just enough time to get to the bar on Monday night (unless you're just jonesing to see the Fail Mary Bowl, part VII, or whatever).

Here's hoping Baltimore took the past two years to study the rulebook.