Pre-Game Meal: Baltimore Ravens

Quick Pats/Falcons Recap:

Last week was a great display of team effort. The first half consisted of the Patriots and the Falcons mirroring each others every move. It was a back-to-back drive and score. The score was tied at 10 before half and the the Falcons were driving. Michael Turner fumbled and the Patriots recovered the ball. This was the point when the momentum seemed to shift in our favor. From that point on, the Falcons would not be able to score any other points.

Brandon McGowan shut down Tony G. just like I called. The Patriots were able to create enough discomfort for Matt Ryan to force him into some bad throws. Fred Taylor ran hard and strong for over 100 yards and it was the first time the Pats had one back carry most of the load all season. I have to say, I was very impressed with this game. Every single player did his job to the best of his abilities and we came out with a huge win.

Needless to say, I’m very excited for the game on Sunday. I’m ready for the offense to blow up and perform much better. Baltimore is one of the top teams in the AFC, and maybe the NFL, this year. 2007 was unforgettable and the game against the Ravens is one that stands out very prominently. This will be a hard fought game and the Patriots very well could get a big W at home if we can continue to keep opposing offenses off of the field.

The All-Pro, First Team, World Class Weekly Match-ups:

* Tom Brady vs. The Man in the Secondary – “I hope he takes the week off[…] It seems like he is always the league leader for interceptions. That’s hard to do…” Tom Brady told reporters during a locker room interview. Ed Reed is one of the best safeties in the league. His ability to trick the quarterback and sit on routes is flawless. Reed is always making a play on the ball and breaking up plays. It only takes one slightly forced throw from a QB and Ed will end up with 6 points. Tom Brady will need some good protection and to make really smart, accurate throws to pick apart this defense and to lower Ed Reed’s impact. It is not going to be easy unless some offensive rhythm was established in practice this week. Hopefully the receivers can run good routes and open somebody(Moss) up deep without Ed over the top.

* Offensive Blocking vs. Raven Defense – The reason that I didn’t put ‘offensive line’ here is that we will need blocking help from Kevin Faulk, Ben Watson, Chris Baker, and Laurence Maroney in order to buy Tommy boy some time in the pocket. The D-Line features beast-like tackles such as Trevor Pryce and Haloti Ngata and these guys can create some serious pressure. The offense needs to get a good push on these guys and hold up well without committing too many penalties. It’s important to not let us lose this one to ourselves by making silly errors. Oh yeah, then there’s the linebackers, nothing too special here-just Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Tavares Gooden to name a few. These are some freakishly talented LBs and the reality is that they’re going to make plays, they’re going to make stops, and they’re quite possibly going to get a sack or two. The blockers need to step up, stop the rush, and protect Tom. A few of these defenders remember the last time they played the Patriots and I don’t think they’ve taken that chip off their shoulders just yet.

* Randy Moss vs. Dominique Foxworth and Co. – Through just three games and Randy is on pace for 139 receptions and 1,500 yards receiving. Apparently not living up to Mike Freeman’s standards, but that’s just fine to me. These Ravens are a physical team and Randy Moss is coming off a bad back. Randy will need to be quick off the line, make his moves quickly, and run hard to get open and stay away from the other DBs like Reed and Dawan Landry. I expect Moss to produce something along the lines of 9 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.

* Tom Brady vs. The #1 Red Zone D – Fact: The Patriots have red zone issues. Fact: The Baltimore Defense doesn’t have red zone issues. These two facts clash, and it’s not in our favor. Joey Galloway needs to make a catch, Fred and Laurence need to run hard. Tom has to make precise, surgeon-like throws. I hope the offense practiced their red zone plays a ton this week. I expect the Ravens to eliminate the big play and make the Patriots slowly march their way up the field. So not being able to execute against Ray Lewis and the boys in the red zone could very well be the difference between a W and an L on Sunday.

* Joe Cool vs. A Surprisingly Sound Defense – The Patriots Defense is ranked 6th in total yards allowed(262) and 7th in points allowed; just 16.7! It’s up to Jarvis Green, Myron Pryor, hopefully Wilfork, and Mike Wright to create some pressure on the big, tough line from Baltimore. Matt Birk is a talented center and if Vince’s ankle gets better, we can match him up there well. The 3-headed monster of Merriweather, McGowan, and Sanders needs to be around the ball always and trick Joe Flacco into some unintelligent throws. Our linebackers have to get through to Joe and make him uncomfortable. It’s very important to prevent Flacco from getting too cozy in his pocket. We shut down a very power Falcons offense, for the most part, last week and our boys will step up to meet this challenge again this Sunday.

* Joe Cool vs. Gillette Stadium – We are all very aware of Joe Flacco’s remarkable rookie season, taking his team one game away from the Super Bowl. His sophomore year doesn’t appear to be slumping at all. This will be the hardest game the Ravens have had to play this season and it is at Gillette Stadium, a place that Flacco has never been. The Patriots fans in the crowd need to roar their heads off. It has to be so loud in there that Joey Cool can’t even think. The fans need to force Birk to mess up snaps. The louder the better on Sunday. Let’s get into their heads.

* Fred Taylor vs. History – The Ravens haven’t let one running back rack up 100 yards rushing in 48 games. Fred Taylor is coming off of a huge game and our offense is pretty much due for a break out game. Can Freddy be the streak-breaker? With the hopeful return of Wes Welker and maybe Joey Galloway’s hands, the Ravens will have to respect the air game. There with be holes and opportunities for Fred Taylor if he can push the ball like he did last Sunday.

That’s all folks.

-B. DelaBarrera

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