1 Can New England stop the Ravens’ run?
Ray Rice tore through the Patriots in the wild-card playoffs last year, racking up 159 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns. Fellow RBs Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain also found the end zone.
Naturally, New England will need to be able to slow down the Ravens’ three-headed running beast if they want to have a chance Sunday.
Their best bet to win is by keeping the ball in QB Joe Flacco’s hands. Even with his new and improved targets, Flacco’s six interceptions tie him for sixth-most in the league.
2 Patriots’ passing game Branching out
Will Deion Branch make Pats fans forget about Randy Moss? Probably not. But you can’t deny that before Branch’s departure,he and Tom Bradyhad more chemistry than your high school science class.
It’s unlikely Branch is close to where he wants to be in terms of knowing the playbook, but he does know what each play requires — getting open. You may not see vintage Brady-to-Branch on Sunday, but just having him out there on the field will be a big help in freeing up the tight ends and allowing Brady to find the open receiver.
3 Goal No. 1: Make this a statement game
Make no mistake about it: This game is big. Not only should the Patriots be looking for revenge against the Ravens, they should be out to prove the rest of the NFL wrong.
If they can knock off the Ravens, they’ll improve to 4-1 and make a strong casethat they’re one of the best teams in the league. Not many people outside of New England expected the Pats to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders this season, but through five games it appears to be any team’s league.