coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 12/17/2013 06:13 AM in NFL

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens

Check back all week as this thread will be updated on a regular basis with information on this game and a free pick by gameday!

The Baltimore Ravens now control their own destiny for the AFC playoffs and they have a shot to secure a wildcard and could even compete for the AFC North. After a slow start from the defending champions they are now on pace to make it back to the post season, but they have to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Patriots missed a golden opportunity to secure the home field advantage with a difficult loss to the Miami Dolphins. - Read More

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
12/17/2013 03:02 PM

The New England Patriots are coming off a disappointing loss to their division rival Miami Dolphins and find themselves in unfamiliar territory this far into the season. Instead of just trying to rest and get healthy for the playoffs at this point this season they’re still trying to figure out just how to fit all the pieces together.

Typically, all the wins and losses fall squarely on the shoulders of Tom Brady and the offense, but this year the usually high-flying New England offense has been average at best. In order for them to make a legitimate run at a Super Bowl, they’re going to need the defense to step up and do their part.

That defense starts with the pass rush. In today’s NFL you can’t stop good offensive teams if you can’t get consistent pressure on the quarterback. And the New England pass rush begins and ends with second-year defensive end Chandler Jones. An athletic edge rusher, Jones broke onto the scene earlier this year with 10.5 sacks in the first 11 games of the season.

But since then Jones has managed to take down the opposing quarterback only once. Most of that is because he doesn’t have enough help on a defensive line that, due to key injuries to veterans like Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, features more than one undrafted rookie in the regular rotation. Jones is consistently drawing a double-team these days, leaving single blocking on the other side for rushers like Rob Ninkovich.

The Patriots, as always, have their sights set on a championship run this year. They won’t get there with just offense, and they certainly won’t win the big game without their defense playing better than they have the last few weeks.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
12/18/2013 04:21 PM

When looking at the AFC playoff picture and the Patriots' road woes this season, Tom Brady views Sunday's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens as critical to the team's success.

"We need it," Brady said. "There’s no bigger game than this one for us. We have to put everything we can into it. It’s a very important game. As the season goes on, each of these games gets more and more important. We know how important this one is to try to win the division."

With a win, the Patriots (10-4) would clinch the AFC East and secure a playoff spot. But they'r e 3-4 on the road. The Patriots could still secure a playoff spot and the AFC East title if the Miami Dolphins lose against the Buffalo Bills. But that's not the preferred route, especially against a Ravens team that has won two of its last three encounters with the Patriots and three of the last five.

"It would be nice to go out there and play this team and play them well for once," Brady said. "We haven’t done a great job playing against them offensively. They present a lot of challenges. They’ve always had great players there; they still have some great players that are carryovers from last year’s team and different guys that they’ve added this year. It’s a really good group and they put a lot of pressure on you. They’re good in the red area, they’re good on third down. They do some really good things. It’s going to be a big test."

With a bit of levity, Brady was also asked about his favorite holiday movie and song, neither of which he could come up with. But he apparently knows where to shop, just not for Giselle Bundchen, his super model wife.

"," he said. "I probably keep them in business. ... It’s hard to find your wife something on"

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
12/19/2013 02:43 PM

Just a month ago, it seemed the phrase "Super Bowl hangover" might define the Baltimore Ravens' season.

After four straight wins, they control their fate in the AFC North and can clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight season this week with a little cooperation from the league.

First, they'll need to take care of business at home Sunday against the New England Patriots, for whom the playoff formula is a little easier to follow: Beat the Ravens and a fifth straight AFC East title is theirs.

The Ravens (8-6) are also after their fifth straight home win and third in a row over the Patriots (10-4) after beating them in the regular season last year and the AFC championship.

"We're playing our best football right now," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We're going to have to continue to improve with what we have in front of us down the stretch."

In Monday night's 18-16 win at Detroit, Justin Tucker's leg bailed out an offense that continued to stall in Lions territory and failed to reach the end zone. He made six field goals, including a 61-yard winner in the final minute to set a franchise record.

Tucker last missed in Week 2 at Cleveland, and his 33 straight makes is the NFL's longest streak since Matt Stover made 36 in a row for the Ravens from 2005-06.

"What can you say about Justin Tucker?" Harbaugh said. "When we got the ball there, I think at the 45-yard line, I said, 'Hey, are we kicking this?' ... He said, 'I got it.'"

The Patriots didn't have it on a potential game-winning drive in last Sunday's 24-20 loss at Miami as they failed in their first shot at clinching the division.

Tom Brady moved the Patriots 61 yards to the Dolphins' 19 with 27 seconds left before failing on the final four plays.

"We didn't do a good job in the red area, and didn't do a good job finishing drives," Brady said. "We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn't a good day. Just couldn't make enough plays."

When they did make plays, Brady leaned heavily on slot receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Again without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL and MCL suffered Dec. 8, the duo combined for 23 receptions and 270 yards. Edelman's 89 catches rank fifth in the league.

After a slow start to the year, the passing game has been more Patriot-like over the last six weeks. Brady leads the league with 2,225 passing yards since Nov. 3, and he's throw 14 touchdowns with four interceptions in that span. Whether they can convert in the red zone without Gronkowski, something they struggled with in the first six games without him, remains to be seen.

Last week's loss denied the Patriots their own four-game winning streak, though it was the fifth straight game in which they trailed in the fourth quarter. That's been the case in every road game but one for New England, which has lost four of its last five away from Foxborough while maintaining a 7-0 home record.

The Patriots' three road wins have come against Buffalo, Atlanta and Houston - all last-place teams that are a combined 11-31.

"They're playing better football now than they were in the beginning of the season," New England defensive end Rob Ninkovich said.

In typical Ravens fashion, they haven't done it with gaudy offensive numbers. Consistency has been enough as they've averaged 313.3 yards in their last four games, never straying below 305 or above 325. They've turned the ball over four times during the winning streak and haven't allowed over 26 points since a 49-27 Week 1 loss at Denver.

They also seem to have figured out their pass protection. Joe Flacco has been sacked a career-high 42 times, but only five of those have come in the last three games.

Still, Flacco took a shot in the left knee Monday after being struck by the helmet of oncoming Lions lineman DeAndre Levy and will wear a brace against the Patriots.

He says his knee is ''a little stiff,'' but does not expect it to be a hindrance against New England.

"(They) play the game the right way," Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "They don't back down from anyone and they always compete. So it's never easy playing those guys."

The Patriots haven't lost consecutive games since Week 3 of 2012, a 31-30 defeat at Baltimore that followed a 20-18 loss to Arizona.

stormy1114 Posts:155 Followers:0
12/20/2013 04:00 PM

kind of a must win for both teams, baltimore still cant score. layoff

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
12/20/2013 10:32 PM

The Patriots ruled out wide receiver Josh Boyce (ankle) and listed Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) and Aaron Dobson (foot) as questionable. Tackle Nate Solder is also questionable after his second concussion in as many weeks.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), running back Ray Rice (thigh) and linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle) are all listed as questionable for the Ravens. Cornerback Asa Jackson (thigh) is doubtful.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
12/20/2013 10:58 PM

While Flacco didn't find the end zone, he also didn't turn the ball over and is 40 yards shy of becoming the first Raven with five straight 3,500-yard passing seasons.

Baltimore did get a scare when Flacco got hit just below the knee during the fourth quarter. He limped to the sidelines after the series was over, but did not miss any time and said he was at full strength the rest of the game.

Flacco was fitted for a brace on his right knee and limited in practice on Wednesday, but Harbaugh said he anticipates his quarterback will play.

"The brace isn't a big deal," said Flacco, who will wear the brace on Sunday. "It just is what it is, and hopefully it will prevent anything really crazy from happening if I happen to get hit on it again."

While Flacco is hobbled physically, Brady did appear to be frustrated mentally after Sunday's loss, bolting his media session rather quickly following the disappointing loss.

"Putting Sunday behind us is important and moving onto this week. There's nothing really from the last game that's going to help us this week," Brady said on Wednesday.

The Patriots quarterback did pass John Elway for fifth in NFL history with 4,150 completions and his 4,049 passing yards put him over the 4,000-yard mark for the sixth time in his career. He joins Dan Marino (6), Brett Favre (6), Drew Brees (8) and Peyton Manning (13) as the only players to have at least five seasons with 4,000 passing yards.

Brady remained one win shy of tying Marino for fourth on the league's all-time wins list for a starting quarterback. Marino had 147.

Edelman has been Brady's favorite target this season with 89 catches for 914 yards and six touchdowns.

Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith will try to build off his recent performance when he held dangerous Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson to six catches for 98 yards while keeping him out of the end zone.

"Jimmy, I think from what I saw, played on-top, square football," said Harbaugh. "He kept his eyes were they were supposed to be whether it was man or zone and he played the ball extremely well downfield. He was physical, of course. He played just really, really well."

Flacco has thrown for 1,213 yards with 10 touchdowns and two picks in his last four versus New England, including the two championship games. That is an impressive stretch, one that Pats defensive end Chandler Jones will try to disrupt.

Jones picked up a sack versus Miami to give him 11 1/2 on the season, the most by a Patriots player since Mike Vrabel had 12 1/2 in 2007. He is also the brother of Baltimore defensive tackle Arthur Jones, an interesting wrinkle in the rivalry.

""This is another game on the schedule that we have to win," said Chandler Jones. "Our goal every week is just to win this game. We're not talking about last year, but just this year. We're just moving forward and just being consistent and winning."

Harbaugh should feel comfortable sending Tucker out on the field given he has the league's longest active streak of field goals made with 33. That is just three shy of Matt Stover's franchise record and he has connected on 15 field goals in his last four games.

Tucker was good from all points on the field on Monday night, becoming the first kicker in NFL history to hit on attempts from the 20-, 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-yard range in a game.