Patriots: A read on Ravens’ flock

If there’s one defense that can silence the Patriots high-octane offense, it’s Ed Reed, Ray Lewis (right) and the stingy Ravens.

We’re still five days away from the AFC championship game, but it’s never too early to get a good read on your opponent:

Is Flacco Tebow Part II?

OK, maybe that’s a little harsh, but the point is that Joe Flacco is by no means a top quarterback in the league. The Patriots secondary has been pretty lucky this postseason, having faced Tim Tebow and now Flacco. In fact, Flacco’s quarterback rating of 80.9 was good for just 18th in the NFL this season. And Flacco threw for just 6.66 yards per pass attempt, placing him 24th in the NFL. He hasn’t thrown for more than 227 yards since Week 11. The Ravens haven’t been winning because of Flacco, in fact, you could say to an extent that they’ve won in spite of him.
 
A+ for ‘D’
The Ravens defense is for real, and is certainly one that could easily give the Patriots high-powered offense trouble. Out of the remaining four teams in the postseason, the Ravens are tops … with the Patriots last. Comparing the two is enough to make you cringe. We won’t go there today, but just know that the Ravens give up an average of just 196.3 passing yards per game. One good reason? Free safety Ed Reed — a player Bill Belichick once said is the best to ever play the position. Talk about respect.
 
Battle-tested

When you talk about a “tough” team, the Ravens have to be at or near the top of the list. Their résumé this season is better than the Patriots — two wins each against the Steelers and Bengals in the regular season, two wins (one in the postseason) against the Texans, and a win against the 49ers. They do it with defense and they do it in the run game with Ray Rice. Ground and pound — on both sides of the ball — is the key to success for Baltimore. The Pats will need to out-tough them.

Average Joe

A look at the last three times Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has faced the Patriots:

1. The pick of the litter for Jumbo Joe, Flacco put up 285 passing yards with a pair of TD passes but the Ravens still fell to the Pats, 23-20, on Oct. 17, 2010.
2. Flacco was atrocious in the Ravens wild-card win at Gillette on Jan. 10, 2010. He had a QB rating of 10.0 as he completed 4-of-10 passes for 34 yards and an interception.
3. Flacco had a 78.7 QB rating on Oct. 4, 2009, as the Ravens came up short in a 27-21 loss to the Patriots. The Ravens QB passed for 264 yards with an interception and two touchdowns.



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