Advertisement

This week's opponent: Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., 1 p.m.

Last time: In a wild-card playoff game at Gillette on Jan. 10, the Ravens buried the Patriots, 33-14. Tom Brady threw three interceptions, and the Patriots gave up 234 rushing yards, including 159 to Ray Rice, who had two touchdowns. After Rice ran for an 83-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, the Ravens built a 24-0 lead in the first quarter. Joe Flacco, nursing a leg injury, threw only 10 passes. New England won a regular-season meeting against the visiting Ravens, 27-21, on Oct. 4, 2009.

Patriots this season: They are 3-1 in the AFC East, a half-game behind the 4-1 Jets. They lost to the Jets in Week 2 (28-14) but hammered the Bengals, Bills and Dolphins, and had a bye in Week 5.

Patriots offense: Brady has completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 911 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions, with a passer rating of 109.0. On third down, however, Brady has a rating of 124.4 with five TDs, an interception and a completion percentage of 70.6.

Advertisement

While the Patriots lead the NFL with a scoring average of 32.8 points a game, they sent Randy Moss (nine catches, three TDs this season) to Minnesota and brought Deion Branch back from Seattle. Wes Welker is the leading receiver with 26 catches and three touchdowns. Wide-out Brandon Tate, who moves into the starting lineup for Moss, has 11 catches, and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez is averaging 13.3 yards on 18 catches.

Backup running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis leads the team in rushing with a 4.6 average and has produced 17 first downs, only one on a reception. Veteran Fred Taylor is averaging 3.9 yards, and Kevin Faulk is on injured reserve.Patriots defense: The Patriots may not have recovered from last year's playoff shellacking. They are giving up 384.5 total yards a game, which ranks 29th in the NFL. They allow 113 rushing yards and 271.5 passing yards a game.

More telling, opposing quarterbacks are completing 69.3 percent of their passes. But the Patriots have survived with seven interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. Safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Rob Ninkovich each have two picks on the season, and the Patriots are plus 4 in turnovers. Neither cornerback Devin McCourty nor cornerback Darius Butler has an interception so far.

The Patriots have also been victimized for seven touchdowns in 10 trips to the red zone by their opponents. The sack leader is tackle Gerard Warren with two. It seems obvious that on the week off, coach Bill Belichick would have made some adjustments to shore up his tattered defense.

Patriots special teams: Belichick has gotten three touchdowns off special teams units this year — two on kickoff returns and another on a blocked field goal. Tate has the two TDs on kick returns, going 103 and 97 yards, and is averaging 33.4 per return. The Patriots have just four punt returns on the season, and have punted a league-low 10 times.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski is just 4-for-7 on field goals and missed three in a row at one point. He has delivered 10 touchbacks on kickoffs.

What it means: A Ravens victory in New England will stamp them as the team to beat in the AFC, and a loss would remove the aura of invincibility the Patriots have enjoyed at home. Baltimore's playoff win in January was the franchise's first against the Patriots. To do it twice in a row would be huge.

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by The Baltimore Sun. The Sun Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

Advertisement
Advertisement