1440 x 128
Sunday night features the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, two of the more successful teams of the last decade, going head-to-head in Foxborough, MA. But there is a sizable gap between these teams now, as the Ravens (6-2) are once again in Super Bowl contention while the Patriots (3-5) are struggling in the post-Tom Brady era
Here is a preview for Sunday night’s game between the Ravens and Patriots, complete with a free pick. Baltimore is currently a seven-point favorite on the road.
After a tough battle and loss to the rival Steelers, the Ravens responded last week with a dominant win against the Colts on the road. Baltimore’s two losses this season have come against Pittsburgh and the Chiefs, the two best teams in the NFL, while they have handled everyone else with relative ease.
Baltimore is averaging 28.4 points per game, the seventh-best mark in the NFL, thanks in part to a rushing attack that is once again the best in football. There is a massive gap between running and passing for the Ravens, as they only average seven more passing yards (177) than rushing yards (170). The lack of yards through the air make Baltimore just 22nd with 362 average yards per game.
Defensively, the Ravens are elite, having allowed a league-best 17.8 points per game through their halfway point. They also have the second-best defense on third downs, allowing opponents to convert just 32.3 percent of the time, while also ranking sixth with 24 sacks as a team. Baltimore is also within the top-10 in both rushing and receiving yards allowed per game.
The last 20 years of the Patriots dynasty seem like a distant memory now. A Monday night comeback against the winless Jets snapped New England’s four-game losing streak and keeping them alive in the AFC playoff race, albeit by a slim margin.
New England is dealing with a struggling offense. They’re averaging just 20.8 points per game, which is in the bottom-five of the NFL. However, their yardage isn’t all that different than Baltimore. They’re fourth with 160 rushing yards per game, 20th with 373.3 total yards, but near the bottom with 202.2 passing yards. The main difference between them and the Ravens, and a reason they’re 3-5 as opposed to 6-2, is a red zone offense that is in the bottom 25% among teams.
On defense, the Pats are allowing a respectable 363.3 yards and 24.3 points per game, good for 11th and 12th in the NFL, respectively. They have defended the pass a lot better than the run, ranking ninth with 222 passing yards allowed but 25th in rushing yards allowed at 131. They have the second-most interceptions as a team with 10, but just 11 sacks, the fourth-fewest.
These are two quarterbacks with MVP trophies on display, and all eyes will be on them Sunday night. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP, while Cam Newton won his award back in 2015 with the Panthers. Both Jackson and Newton are signal-callers who do most of their damage on the ground, with Jackson leading Baltimore in rushing yards and touchdowns while Newton leads New England with a whopping eight touchdowns.
Starting with the Ravens, they will be without defensive end, Calais Campbell. One of their top pass-rushers, the veteran Campbell sat out all week with a calf injury and was ruled out for the game. Cornerback Jimmy Smith also missed practice this week and is officially doubtful. In addition, running back Mark Ingram and linebacker Matthew Judon are questionable. However, both participated fully in Friday’s practice.
The Patriots have yet to have any players ruled out but have a laundry list of questionable names that were all limited in Friday’s practice. On defense, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, rookie defensive back Kyle Dugger, and linebacker Shilique Calhoun are all ones to watch. Running back Damien Harris, wide receiver N’Keal Harry, and tight end Ryan Izzo are all questionable as well, while even kicker Nick Folk is dealing with a back issue.
A rainy and windy night in Foxborough would seem to indicate that we’ll see a lot more running than passing during the game. This would favor Baltimore, although we’ve seen New England be able to run the ball. But based on the styles of these teams and the forecast, the under 43.5 points seems to be the better play.
As for the game itself, it’s hard to overlook the mismatch here. New England’s defense struggles against the run and now face the league’s best rushing team that could be getting Ingram back tonight.
Furthermore, the Patriots offense is struggling mightily, while the Ravens hold their opponents to just under 18 points per game on average. In a different year where home-field advantage was more likely to factor into the result, I would consider New England to cover. But I think this is a chance for the Ravens to win in a blowout, much like they did last year when these teams squared off.
Pick: Ravens -7, Under 43.5