The Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots are set to take on one another in Foxborough on Monday Night Football.
This rivalry is one of the most, if not the most, underrated rivalries in the NFL. Although the Patriots lead the all-time series with a 9-3 record, most games have been very close. The games have also been of high stakes, with the two teams matching up in four playoff games. In those playoff matchups, the Ravens and Patriots are tied at 2-2. Their latest meeting came down to the wire and was only decided by four points in the AFC Divisional Round of the 2015 NFL Playoffs. This would lead to a Patriots Super Bowl XLIX victory against the Seattle Seahawks.
Matchups to Watch For:
The Ravens’ defense against the Patriots’ offense will be the largest of battles. The Ravens’ defense averages 296.1 yards allowed per game, ranking number one in the NFL. The Patriots’ offense is number six in the NFL in yards, gaining 387.5 yards per game. Everyone knows that Tom Terrific will come to play on Sunday. That’s what he does. Tom Brady is a top-3 quarterback of all-time… EASILY. However, the Ravens’ defense is back with leaders including his arch-nemesis, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and safety Eric Weddle.
Suggs and Weddle have both been a thorn in the side of opposing offenses. Suggs has eight sacks, three forced fumbles and 22 tackles in 11 games played in 2016. The six-time Pro Bowler has returned to form after missing the entirety of last season with a torn Achilles. Weddle 37 tackles, 24 assists, three interceptions and 1 forced fumble. He is also the eyes and ears of the Ravens defense, giving them a free safety that plays the game in the same way as former Raven Ed Reed. Baltimore has missed that style of play from their defense, which hasn’t been ranked in the top-five since 2011. Along with cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety LarDarius Webb and rookie cornerback Tavon Young, Weddle has boosted the Ravens’ secondary to new heights.
Another matchup to watch for is Baltimore’s passing offense versus the Patriots’ defense. The Ravens came out firing away on Sunday. Joe Flacco passed for 381 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 INTs and carved up Miami’s defense. He spread the ball around and put on a clinic. This will be important for the Ravens to attempt to replicate. Baltimore ranks number 12 in the NFL in passing yards per game, averaging 258. New England also ranks 12th in passing defense, allowing 243 yards per game. Something has got to give.
Lastly, the biggest matchup: Flacco vs Brady. Joe will play against Tom for the ninth time in his career. Flacco has a 3-5 record against Brady and the Patriots, passing the ball 159 times, completing 104 passes (65.41% completion rate), 1191 yards, seven touchdowns and 4 interceptions in four regular season meetings. In the playoffs, Flacco has thrown the ball 127 times, completing 75 passes (59.06% completion rate), 872 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions against the Patriots.
Against the Ravens during the regular season in the Flacco Era, Brady has passed the ball 143 times, completing 90 passes (62.93% completion rate), 1,057 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. In the postseason against Flacco, Brady has attempted 182 passes, completing 107 (58.79% completion rate), 1080 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions. His numbers haven’t been as good against the Ravens as Flacco’s have been against the Patriots. So it will be important to the Ravens to come out firing away against the Patriots because Brady can score and he will score.
This rivalry never gets any credit from NFL pundits and fans alike. There aren’t many people that will go out on a limb and say that the Ravens and Patriots rivalry is bigger than any in the NFL. I believe that it is because of it’s history and the high stakes that are associated with the game. The winner of this game has gone to the Super Bowl in four different matchups. That is huge. Although the record is lopsided, it doesn’t show how close the games have been.
We shall enjoy a great game on Monday Night Football for sure. So, sit back, relax and enjoy some important football!