Pre-Game Meal: Bailtimore Ravens

Patriots Ravens

New England thinks Brandon Tate has what it takes to help this offense move the ball through the air.

NEPD Staff Writer: B. Delabarrera

Fresh out of the Bye and in to the fire… this week, the New England Patriots (3-1) face off against the Baltimore Ravens (4-1) for the first time since their embarrassing loss to them in the 2009 Playoffs.

The Ravens are tied with the AFC East rival New York Jets for first place in the AFC; a win in Foxboro on Sunday means a piece of that first place pie could belong to the Pats.

Naysayers don’t believe that Tom Brady and the boys can get it done against elite teams with WR Brandon Tate in place of Randy Moss, the most recent final-year-in-contract-player to be swapped for draft picks. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the minds of those who know the facts; excitement over the full unleashing of new weapons like Tate and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez.

These young players like Hernandez and Tate are explosive sticks of dynamite with short fuses ready to separate from defenders at any given moment and bang one in for six. The production of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been remarkable as well. Even though he’ll be staring into some of the NFL’s scariest defensive facemasks, this kid’s confidence has to be soaring soaring.

His opposing counterpart is Ray Rice, the hard-nosed-down-your-throat-running-playmaker from Rutgers who burned New England right out of the gate in last years postseason on an 80+ yard run. Rice has been moving the chains very effectively this season for Baltimore. As if that weren’t enough, this year the Patriots have to also worry about the Ravens shiny, new, 6’1″ toy: Anquan Boldin. Let’s get some match-ups:

Baltimore’s New Toy vs. Patriot’s Secondary – So Anquan Boldin… why does that name sound familiar? You may remember him from the Arizona Cardinals, or if you were in Baltimore three Sundays ago when he scorched Cleveland for 142 yards and 3 scores. At 6’1″ and 223 lbs, it’s not a joke to say that this man is a BIG threat. Pair him up with also new-to-Baltimore WR T.J. Houzmandzadeh and the clucth Derrick Mason, and it’s no wonder that Boldin has broken off a handful of 20+ yard plays.

It’s going to be vital for Pat Chung (NFL.com’s tenth-best defensive back as of this week) to keep one eye on #81 at all times and to bring the hits hard whenever he does. After his impressive Monday Night Football performance against Miami, it would be nice to see the second-year free safety find his niche and let a stray Joe Flacco pass end up in his hands.

Joe Cool vs. Tom Better – While the QB in purple may have Tom beat in yards, his touchdown-to-interception ratio is a measly 5:6 with a rating of 72.1 in comparison to Brady’s 9:2 ratio and 109 passer rating. Number 12 has been completing about 71% of his passes through four games and hasn’t thrown an interception since week 2 when he threw both of his picks to the Jets. The Raven’s banged up, Ed Reed-less secondary will probably end up allowing a big play or two to one of the aforementioned offensive menaces.

In the last two Joe Flacco sightings, he has completed 38 of 62 passes (60.45%) for 452 yards, 1 TD, and 1 interception. While those stats could be worse, they could also better. Both games, however, did end up adding two more ‘W’s to Baltimore’s record. Generally speaking, Flacco has been having a good time distributing the ball around too; even Ray Rice has 100 yards receiving.

Name That Running Back – Quick. In their last two games played, which AFC running back has almost 175 yards on 32 carries and a score in each appearance? You say Rice? *sounds buzzer* WRONG. That back would be none other than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, better known as the Law Firm.

As these weeks go by, the somewhat strange personnel moves by New England begin to make more and more sense. The coaching staff has obviously known that changes had to be made, and all of these young players have proven to those coaches that they can handle the load in their respective positions-and for way less money than some other people would even be willing to play for.

With all that being said, it’s probably going to be extremely difficult for the Law Firm to amass impressive yardage against a defensive line featuring NT Haloti Ngata that weighs about a half ton. This defense is one of the best at stopping the run, so it will be largely up to Green-Ellis to make a few people miss and squeeze between the tackles. With a little luck he may be able to break one off or hopefully, at least, keep the Baltimore defense respectful.

(100 – 81) vs. Baltimore Secondary The year is 2009… and coming off of his recent ACL and MCL injuries, Univ. of North Carolina¬†WR Brandon Tate held his pro day. Without having much practice on his rehabbed knee, the speedster stil managed to clock a 4.52 during his 40-yard dash. That’s pretty fast if you ask me, especially with a rough knee. I think it’s safe to assume that Tate has honed his skills for the past season and a half and is in better shape than any of us can really imagine.

I just can’t wait to give him a legitimate shot. It’s scary to imagine a Brandon Tate near 100% developing chemistry with Tom Brady. And I’m sure you’ve all already thought about it, but honestly, for Coach Belichick to be alright with a trade that would swap a Hall of Fame caliber wide receiver in exchange for no players (this year), someone on the current roster must possess the skill set necessary to fill Moss’ spot on the roster.

CB’s Fabian Washington and Chris Carr have had their work cut out for them this season without Reed, but they are covering their men well and often; managing to maintain the second ranked passing defense. Depending on the Patriot formations Tate, will probably see both of these aggressive backs. I’ll take Tom Brady to help out Tate this Sunday for 100 yards.

SECRET WEAPON: Aaron Hernandez. Brady’s new buddy is poised to become the next big shot tight end in the NFL, making strides in his growth every week. He’s been leaving linebackers and DBs with that confused, scrunchy face when the whistle blows. Practically every reception this guy hauls in is good for 20 yards (the average is closer to 13.3 ypr). He even rounded up 13 yards on a tight end around a few weeks ago.

It’s like Hernandez is open every time Brady needs him to be; that’s an asset that any team would love to have and a sure fire way to make his name known. Will Ray Lewis and the Ravens blitz often and risk our #85 break loose? If they don’t, who can really cover him?

Alright, alright, I’m getting too excited just typing this. I’ll go out on a limb and say 24-20 Patriots. Bring on the comments, who are you guys most excited to see catch a TD pass this weekend?

-B.DelaBarrera

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One Response to “Pre-Game Meal: Bailtimore Ravens”

  1. Patriots Draft Guru says:

    26-21 Patriots – 1 TD Pass to NINJA and 1 TD Pass to Samurai.

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