Three things to watch Sunday night against the Ravens:
1. Now we get the payback
Everybody knows what happened the last time the Patriots and Ravens played each other. Just ask then-Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff (now on the Redskins). The Ravens won’t admit to it, but they’ve still got a sour taste in their mouths about how their season ended last season, with the Patriots advancing to the Super Bowl. Now, the Pats are in Baltimore — a place they’ve only played the Ravens twice. They’re 6-0 all-time against Baltimore in the regular season, but go into Sunday night’s game as underdogs — a rare occurrence for New England. Whatever happens, expect this one to come down to the final minutes.
2. Same old story in Baltimore
The Patriots defense has been a hot topic around New England this season, as the Pats actually have a capable one. Baltimore, on the other hand, has been a defensive force for years — and this year is no different. Ray Lewis came into camp 40 pounds lighter and at 37 years old still remains one of, if not the most feared linebackers in the NFL. He ranks 10th in the NFL in tackles with 19 in two games, plus a forced fumble. The Ravens still have the player who Bill Belichick called one of the best free safeties to ever play the game in Ed Reed. Reed has two picks on the year. Yeah, this is going to be a low scoring game.
3. Eyes wide out
The Patriots played in a two tight end set more than any team in the NFL last year. You would too if you had Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. But now that Hernandez is out, things are going to change. Hernandez is a huge part of the Pats offense, lining up all over the line of scrimmage prior to the snap. The Pats will have to go out of their comfort zone a bit. This could be the game Wes Welker gets the snaps, targets, and catches all of New England seems to think he deserves. Or maybe Tom Brady and Brandon Lloyd finally click. And don’t forget that Deion Branch is back. The Pats have options, but the Ravens are licking their chops.