The Ravens defense through five games has been pretty solid, with the exceptions of forcing turnovers or getting a great number of quarterback sacks. To date the Ravens have generated 3 turnovers and 8 quarterback sacks. There was a uncharacteristic effort against the run against the Browns in week 3, and while the pass defense surrendered over 300 yards to Kyle Orton and the Broncos last week, most of those yards were gained because the Broncos had to throw because the Ravens were in control of the game. At the beginning of the season, many people wondered how the Ravens D would stack up against Tom Brady and the Patriots, particularly with the questions on the back end. With the departure of Randy Moss, now there are new questions as to how the Patriots will attack the Ravens offensively.
In two games last year, the Ravens played the Patriots tough; the defense’s best performance of the season occurred in last year’s playoff game, where the pass rush was forceful and the secondary, which had been maligned all season made some plays against Brady and the Patriots. More of the same will be needed on Sunday. Without Moss, the Patriots seemingly have lost a deep threat, unless they plan to use Brandon Tate or one of their two rookie tight ends, perhaps Aaron Hernandez, to stretch the field. This may be the true test of the Ravens’ secondary; many doubters have insisted that the Ravens good results in pass defense have been built against passing attacks and quarterbacks that aren’t elite.
In their last game, the Patriots were able to generate some running room for BenJarvus Green-Ellis against the Dolphins; but against the Ravens, those lanes should be closed. Most teams have not been able to generate much on the ground against the Ravens, with the previously mentioned Browns the only exception. There shouldn’t be any reason why the Patriots should experience any great success either. Another loss, which may be just as important to the Patriots but isn’t mentioned quite as much, is that Kevin Faulk-their do-everything third down back-won’t be available for this game. The Ravens have been good at getting offenses off the field on third down, this is a trend that will also have to continue.
If the Ravens can generate a consistent pass rush and do enough to keep the Patriots offense off balance, coupled with a typically strong effort against the run, the elements will be in place to contribute to another victory.