Ravens vs. Patriots: Game Preview

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws the ball as Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens charges him during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

When the Baltimore Ravens play the New England Patriots, it's usually one of the best defenses in the league against one of the best offenses. For the most part, that's what you will be getting this Sunday night, except the roles have been reversed,or at least they are so far after two games of the regular season.

Offensively, while the two teams are relatively evenly matched, the Ravens hold a significant advantage in average points scored per game (33.5-26.0). The Patriots average eleven yards per game more, one yard passing and ten yards rushing.

Defensively is where the biggest disparity lies, with the Patriots statistically far superior to the Ravens right now. New England is ranked 2nd overall while Baltimore is way down the list towards the bottom, ranked 27th in total yards allowed. Although the Ravens are only surrendering two more points per game right now, their defense against the rush (20th) and the pass (26th) pale in comparison to the Patriots ranking (vs. rush: 5th / vs. pass: 7th).

These defensive totals are alarming and while they are obviously skewed due to the huge yardage the Philadelphia Eagles put up on the Ravens, leading to the difference between what the Ravens allow on the average (404 yards) as opposed to the Patriots (264 yards). The same is seen in run defense, as the Ravens are currently giving up an average of 129 yards per game, compared to the Patriots' 62.5, less than half of what Baltimore's allowed.

These numbers are sure to change, possibly as soon as this Sunday's game. If Baltimore can get their run game going and convert third downs like they did in their season-opening home victory, then the yards could pile up both for the Ravens offense and against the Patriots defense.

Likewise, Baltimore's defense has historically been able to limit New England QB Tom Brady's effectiveness, which could also translate into less yards gained for the Patriots and the same allowed by the Ravens defense.

However, the biggest and most important defensive stat, the one that only truly matters, is points allowed, and if the Ravens defense allows less points than the Patriots defense, that will mean a Baltimore victory, which is the only thing that anyone will really care about once the game is over.

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