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RAVENS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Lamar Jackson completed just nine of 20 passes for 143 yards in the Ravens’ Week 7 road victory over the Seattle Seahawks but was undermined by a succession of drops. His most reliable receiver, tight end Mark Andrews, was the chief culprit, catching just two passes on eight targets. Andrews still leads the Ravens with 36 catches for 449 yards. Rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown, the team’s top deep threat with a per-catch average of 15.5 yards, is expected back from an ankle injury against the Patriots. Fellow rookie Miles Boykin got behind the Seahawks for a 50-yard catch, but Jackson has targeted him just 13 times overall in seven games. The Ravens rank 18th in the NFL in passing and 15th in yards per attempt, numbers inflated by their Week 1 carpet bombing of the Miami Dolphins, which they’ve been unable to repeat against better opposition.

PATRIOTS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Tom Brady remains an efficient passer in his 20th NFL season, with a 64.7% completion rate and 13 touchdowns against four interceptions. Despite his lack of mobility at age 42, Brady still takes relatively few sacks (13 through eight games) because he gets rid of the ball quickly. But this has not been a vintage New England aerial offense. The Patriots rank seventh in total passing and 16th in yards per attempt. They recently traded for Mohamed Sanu to bolster a receiving corps that has suffered because of failed dalliances with Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon. Brady’s favorite receivers are Julian Edelman (53 catches on 79 targets) and running back James White (42 catches on 52 targets), but they average just 10.8 and 8.5 yards per reception, respectively. The Patriots have struggled to replace Rob Gronkowski with a committee of tight ends that includes former Raven Benjamin Watson.

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EDGE: Patriots

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RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The Ravens average 204.1 rushing yards per game, best in the NFL by more than 20 yards per game. They average 5.5 yards per carry, second best in the league. Jackson has run for more than 100 yards in each of their past two games and is on pace to obliterate Michael Vick’s 13-year-old single-season record for quarterbacks. Jackson’s average of 6.9 yards per attempt is by far the best among the league’s top 50 rushers. Jackson’s outside speed has complemented the off-tackle excellence of running back Mark Ingram II, who’s also on pace to exceed 1,000 yards for the season and has scored seven touchdowns in seven games. Gus Edwards has been a powerful third option with 234 yards and a 4.5-yards-per-carry average.

PATRIOTS RUNNING GAME: The Patriots run frequently but not efficiently, ranking seventh in the league in attempts but just 23rd in total yards and 30th in yards per carry. Running back Sony Michel leads them with 464 rushing yards and six touchdowns but has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. With starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn and starting center David Andrews both on injured reserve, the Patriots’ offensive line has not lived up to its usual standards, though Wynn returned to practice this week.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens have been solid here since surrendering a combined 333 rushing yards to the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns in Weeks 3 and 4. Josh Bynes has excelled against the run since replacing Patrick Onwuasor at middle linebacker. Michael Pierce leads all NFL defensive linemen in run-stop percentage, as measured by Pro Football Focus. His interior partner, Brandon Williams, played one of the best games of his career against the Seahawks, earning raves from coaches. The Ravens rank third in the league in rushing defense, and opponents have mostly avoided testing them, with just 136 attempts through seven games.

PATRIOTS RUSH DEFENSE: This is a relative weak spot for the league’s best overall defense as the Patriots have allowed opponents to average 4.6 yards per carry. Browns running back Nick Chubb coughed up two fumbles against New England on Sunday, but he also gained 131 yards on 20 carries. Linebacker Jamie Collins leads the Patriots with 44 tackles. He and Dont’a Hightower have both played well against the run, though they’ve shined brighter in other areas. Nose tackle Danny Shelton is the Patriots’ best interior run defender.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens delivered their best performance of the season in holding Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to 241 yards on 20-for-41 passing. Cornerback Marcus Peters returned an interception for a touchdown in his first game as a Raven, and the defense hit Wilson eight times. Safety Chuck Clark played another steady game as the replacement for injured starter Tony Jefferson; he and Earl Thomas III have formed an effective back-line partnership. The secondary should be further bolstered by the return of cornerback Jimmy Smith from a knee injury that kept him out the past six games. In less uplifting health news, the Ravens lost their second-most productive pass rusher, Pernell McPhee, to a season-ending triceps injury. In his absence, they’ll rely more heavily on rookie Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser, who’s recently played the best stretch of his three-year career. The Ravens rank 26th in the league in pass defense and 28th in sacks.

PATRIOTS PASS DEFENSE: The Patriots have created turnovers at an astonishing rate with 19 interceptions through eight games, almost twice as many as the next teams in the NFL rankings. Their plus-17 turnover margin also laps the field. If that’s not enough, they lead the league with 31 sacks and four defensive touchdowns. Cornerbacks Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore and safety Devin McCourty have all earned outstanding coverage grades from Pro Football Focus. Collins has been a terror both in the pass rush (six sacks) and in coverage (three interceptions). The New England rush comes from all angles; Kyle Van Noy and rookie Chase Winovich have 4 1/2 sacks each from the edges, and defensive tackle Adam Butler has the same number from inside. In sum, Jackson has never faced a greater defensive challenge in his young career.

EDGE: Patriots

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RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Justin Tucker has made all 16 of his field-goal attempts this season and ranks as the most accurate kicker in NFL history by almost three percentage points. Sam Koch has worked infrequently this season but has put 10 of his 18 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Ravens released their best coverage defender, Justin Bethel, after the victory in Seattle to avoid giving up a fourth-round draft pick under the league’s free-agent compensation formula. Bethel signed with the Patriots.

PATRIOTS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Patriots signed kicker Nick Folk to replace Mike Nugent, who made just five of eight field-goal attempts and 15 of 16 extra-point attempts while filling in for the injured Stephen Gostkowski. Jake Bailey has punted 43 times, tied for third-most in the league, and has put a solid 41.9% of those inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Patriots haven’t broken a kickoff return longer than 28 yards or a punt return longer than 22 yards this season, but they’ve excelled in punt coverage, holding opponents to 5.6 yards per return.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens should be well-rested coming off their bye week with key players such as Brown, Smith and Onwuasor expected to return from injuries against the Patriots. They went into their midseason break on a high with that 30-16 road win in Seattle and have firmly established their identity as the league’s best running team. The Ravens have generally risen to the occasion against the Patriots under coach John Harbaugh.

PATRIOTS INTANGIBLES: No franchise in league history can match the coach-quarterback combination of Bill Belichick and Brady. They’ve won six Super Bowls and expect to be around in late January every year. Belichick is one of the greatest defensive game planners in history and will relish trying to devise counters for Jackson. The Patriots have played a weak schedule but have won their four road games by a combined 125-17.

EDGE: Patriots

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PREDICTION: With their league-best running game, the Ravens are as well-equipped as anyone to dent New England’s overwhelming defense. But the Ravens have been vulnerable to short, quick passes all season, and Brady is the master of controlling a game with such throws. The Patriots force many more mistakes than they make, and that will be the difference in a nail-biter. Patriots 24, Ravens 23.

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