Ruoff’s Rundown on Ravens at Patriots
The Baltimore Ravens have been in this position before. Play nearly perfect or go home. John Harbaugh’s club will be ready to accomplish what most people believe they won’t do. Here’s three keys to leaving Foxoboro with a victory.
1. Establish the Running Game
The Patriots only lost four games in the 2014 season, but there is one very noticeable, common trait in all four of those games. In each loss, the opposing team ran for
over 100 yards on the ground and dominated the time of possession. In the games they won, the Patriots gave up significantly less rushing yardage and controlled the ball much more. Now of course it is not a new revelation that controlling the ball will lead to success, but this concept has extra emphasis when playing the Patriots.
The reason for the extra emphasis on controlling the clock when playing New England is the dynamic play of Tom Brady. Brady can easily change the game and it is an extremely difficult task to ask your defense to contain him for long periods of time. That being said, the best way to keep Brady from winning the game for New England is to keep him off the field. As the old saying goes, “the best defense is a good offense”.
2. Get Pressure on Tom Brady
The Patriots gave up the fourth fewest sacks in the NFL this year, giving up just 26, and Brady enjoyed a clean pocket for the majority of the year. The ability of the offensive line to keep him upright was a main reason for their success this year and in the past.
If you look at the games New England lost or almost lost, a common ingredient is that the opposing team got a great deal of pressure on Brady in each one of these games. Of the 21 sacks Brady took this season, 40% of them came in their four losses. If we include their one-point win over the Jets in Week 16 and their seven-point fourth quarter victory over the Raiders in Week 3, the six games account for nearly 70% of the total sacks New England gave up all year!
In addition, in games that Brady was sacked 2 or fewer times, he has a passer rating over 100.0, however; he has an average quarterback rating of 72.9 in the games that defenses got more than 2 sacks. Clearly, to beat the Patriots the Ravens need to get to Tom Brady.
3. Protect the Football
The Patriots were one of the best teams in the league this year at causing turnovers. They had the second best turnover differential at +12 in the 2014 season and their opportunistic defense was a huge reason for that. New England finished the regular season with 16 interceptions, which put them in the top half of the league in that defensive category. Also, their two fumble returns for touchdowns were the second most in the league.
Turning the ball over is a crucial concept for the Patriot’s success. They thrive on scoring after turnovers and were one of the best teams in the league at turning those turnovers into points this year. If the Ravens are going to beat New England this week, they’ll need to protect the football and avoid turning it over.
FanRag Sports Wants to Know:
Will the Ravens or Patriots win on Saturday?
Does Joe Flacco get the credit he deserves?
Will Tom Brady win a fourth Super Bowl?
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