Only three offensive players that started for the Patriots when they last met the Ravens in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 10, 2015, will be starting Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Yet, the only thing that seemed to matter to the Ravens this week was that the guy who directs the Patriots offense remains the same, perhaps even better.
Practically every NFL coach will tell you that one player does not make or break a football team. That holds true for the Ravens, but members of the secondary are not shy about wishing for the return of cornerback Jimmy Smith from a nagging back injury.
If outside forecasts of the defense's pending demise had seeped into their locker room, the Ravens weren't saying. The knowing nods and wry smiles, though, suggested the players were well aware of what was being said and written. They haven't played anyone. They are too slow, too reliant on veterans. They don't stand a chance of stopping the Cowboys and their vaunted running game.