Patriots-Ravens preview: 3 things to watch for

Tom Brady Haloti Ngata Ravens Patriots
Haloti Ngata and the Ravens had their way with Tom Brady and the Patriots in last January’s AFC Championship game. Credit: Getty Images

The Patriots head into Baltimore this Sunday (4:25 p.m., CBS) with a lot more on the line than was originally expected two or three weeks ago.

In short, it’s not an ideal situation.

Are the Ravens playing like Super Bowl champions? Well, that depends on which games you’ve watched. They’ve looked every bit the part over the last four games, where they’ve gone 4-0 and have catapulted back into the playoff picture after some had left them for dead.

The Patriots, on the other hand, look more like the walking dead as of late. Or at least the walking injured.

Going into Week 15, the Pats still don’t have the AFC East wrapped up. In fact, in a crazy-but-not-that-crazy scenario, they could find themselves out of the playoffs altogether if they don’t take care of business against the Ravens this week or the Bills in Week 17.

“We need it,” Tom Brady said of Sunday’s game. “There’s no bigger game than this one for us. We have to put everything we can into it.”

With that, we focus on three things going into Sunday.

There’s some history there
While the Patriots and Ravens aren’t in the same division, it sure feels like they play each other a whole lot. And lately, it’s been the Ravens finding themselves on top. Baltimore has beaten New England in three of the last five matchups, including two postseason victories. You recall the Ravens knocking off the Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship game in Foxboro, 28-13.


“It would be nice to go out there and play this team and play them well for once,” Brady said.

Banged up Flacco
Joe Flacco avoided a serious knee injury in Monday night’s 18-16 win over the Lions, but the Ravens QB was diagnosed with a mild MCL sprain. He will definitely play Sunday against the Patriots, but how that injury limits him physically and mentally will be something to watch. Flacco can get happy feet in the pocket if it closes in around him. The Patriots absolutely have to put pressure on him and make him make quick decisions.

Red Zone
The Ravens have given up touchdowns to opponents in the red zone in six straight attempts, spanning the last three games. Even so, they rank fourth in the NFL in opponent red zone scoring percentage (42.86 percent) this season. Production in the red zone is huge for the Patriots this week, especially after the struggles we saw in Miami.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.