It feels strange to view a trip to Foxborough, Massachusetts, as a relatively light date on the schedule, but the Ravens hold widespread advantages over the struggling New England Patriots as they prepare for a Week 10 matchup.
RAVENS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Lamar Jackson played an efficient game against a good Indianapolis Colts defense, completing 19 of 23 passes with no turnovers. He was particularly effective throwing off play action in the second half. Playing without All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens did a solid job protecting their quarterback against the Colts, who hit him just twice. Jackson sits 17th in ESPN’s QBR ranking, which he topped in 2019. After facing criticism for locking in on wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, Jackson has spread his throws around the past two weeks. Tight end Nick Boyle and slot receiver Willie Snead IV each caught four passes on four targets against the Colts. At the midpoint of the season, only one pass catcher, Brown, is on pace for more than 600 receiving yards. The Ravens rank 31st in passing offense and 25th in yards per attempt.
PATRIOTS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Cam Newton (seven interceptions, three fumbles) has been too careless with the ball. He ranks 25th in QBR, and the Patriots rank 30th in passing offense and 21st in yards per attempt. Newton is desperately short on productive wide receivers; Damiere Byrd leads the Patriots with 26 catches for 337 yards. Veteran Julian Edelman has missed the past two games with a knee injury. New England receivers have caught just three touchdown passes. On a brighter note, James White and Rex Burkhead have been effective pass catchers out of the backfield.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The Ravens rushed for just 110 yards on 38 attempts against the Colts, a surprisingly inefficient effort after they gouged the Steelers for 265 yards the previous week. They again played without running back Mark Ingram II. Running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins combined for just 53 yards on 23 attempts compared with 200 yards on 31 carries against Pittsburgh. Jackson remains the top threat for the league’s No. 1 ground offense, with 469 yards on 5.9 per carry halfway through the season.
PATRIOTS RUNNING GAME: Second-year running back Damien Harris has given the Patriots a jolt since he stepped in for injured Sony Michel, with 350 yards on 5.6 per carry in five games. Newton remains one of the league’s most effective running quarterbacks, especially in short-yardage situations. He easily leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns. The Patriots' starting offensive linemen all grade as very good to excellent run blockers, according to Pro Football Focus. New England ranks fourth in the league in rushing and sixth in yards per attempt.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens allowed the Colts to run for 112 yards on 21 carries, with much of the damage coming on outside runs in the first quarter. Defensive end Calais Campbell left after the first series with a calf injury, depriving the Ravens of their best interior run defender. Derek Wolfe and rookie Justin Madubuike held their own in his place, combining for eight tackles. They might have to do it again, with Campbell out for the Patriots game. Rookie linebacker Malik Harrison also played well filling in for L.J. Fort, who was inactive because of a finger injury. The Ravens rank eighth in rushing defense but allow 4.5 yards per carry, which is just 19th best in the league.
PATRIOTS RUSH DEFENSE: The Patriots allowed the Ravens to rush for 210 yards in a 37-20 loss last season, and they’re again weak against the run. The San Francisco 49ers rolled up 197 yards on them in Week 7, and the Buffalo Bills followed with 190 in Week 8. Safety Adrian Phillips leads the team with 56 tackles, and former Raven Lawrence Guy (who did not play Monday night because of shoulder, elbow and knee injuries) is New England’s most effective interior run defender. Inside linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who was also inactive Monday, is one of the worst run defenders at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens will have All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who missed the Colts game after he tested positive for COVID-19. Without Humphrey, the Ravens relied on just three cornerbacks: Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith and Terrell Bonds. Peters stepped up with a forced fumble and an interception, while Smith (who could miss the Patriots game with an ankle injury) continued his work as one of the league’s top cover cornerbacks in his 10th NFL season. The Ravens lead the league in blitz rate and rank top 10 in pressure percentage, quarterback knockdowns and sacks. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue played 45 snaps against the Colts but is still hunting for his first sack as a Raven. Opposing quarterbacks average a meager 5.4 yards per attempt against the Baltimore defense.
PATRIOTS PASS DEFENSE: The Patriots are unusual because they rank near the top of the league in pressure and hurry percentage but rarely produce sacks. All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore has missed the last two games with a knee injury and has not played up to his usual level. But running mate J.C. Jackson has been outstanding, with five interceptions and 10 passes defended. Veteran safety Devin McCourty remains a dangerous ballhawk. Opposing quarterbacks don’t test the Patriots often, but they have allowed eight yards per attempt, second worst in the league.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Justin Tucker made a 48-yard field goal against the Colts and has missed just once (from 61 yards) this season. Punter Sam Koch ranks ninth in the league with a net average of 42.3 yards and has put 13 of 31 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Ravens have accumulated 507 yards on returns compared with 325 for their opponents, and Tucker ranks fifth with 36 touchbacks on kickoffs.
PATRIOTS SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Nick Folk has made 14 of 16 field-goal attempts and 14 of 15 extra-point attempts. Punter Jake Bailey ranks second in the league with a net average of 45.7 and has put 13 of 20 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Primary returner Gunner Olszewski has played well, averaging 13.5 yards on punts and 24.1 yards on kickoffs.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens wiped away the gloom surrounding their loss to the Steelers with an impressive second half against the Colts. They’ve won 10 straight road games and have not fallen to an opponent with a losing record since Week 4 of last season. They beat the Patriots by 17 in Week 9 last year.
PATRIOTS INTANGIBLES: Before they squeaked past the woeful New York Jets on Monday night, the Patriots had lost four in a row. With longtime quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, they’re on pace for their worst season since 2000. And they’ll face the favored Ravens coming off a short week of preparation. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history and can’t be overlooked, but every other factor favors the Ravens.
PREDICTION: It feels strange to view a trip to Foxborough, Massachusetts, as a relatively light week on the schedule, but the Ravens are better than the Patriots in almost every area and will benefit from an extra day of preparation. Jackson will need to avoid turnovers against a good secondary, but the Patriots match up poorly against the Ravens' power and don’t have enough offensive weapons to keep pace. Ravens 31, Patriots 20.