New England Patriots: A Threat to the Baltimore Ravens Or Not?

Tom Brady drops his head in shame and sits on the turf after getting knocked down in the fourth quarter in the 2012-13 AFC Championship Game. - Jared Wickerham

Are the Patriots truly a threat to the Baltimore Ravens?

The New England Patriots are emerging as one of the Ravens' biggest rivals. They have played each other the last 2 AFC Championship games, splitting the series 1-1, and they also met last season in Week 3 in a very entertaining matchup, in which the Ravens came away with a victory 31-30 after a Justin Tucker field goal.

The Losses:

The Patriots and Ravens have had significant losses this off-season, but who's are larger?

It seems as if the Patriots are losing their entire offense, and not being able to replace them. The Patriots have lossed guys like RB Danny Woodhead, WR Wes Welker, and WR Brandon Lloyd, three large receivers in the offense. Along with the departures, TE Rob Gronkowski has had four surgeries this off-season, and is not expected to return until two days after the Patriots' first game. The other large TE, Aaron Hernandez, is currently being searched by the law, after a rental car connected to a murder was connected back to Hernandez. It has been reported that Hernandez is not a murder suspect, but you never know what new evidence could emerge.

Overall, the New England Patriots aren't looking too good so far in the off-season. Brady lost his favorite target in Welker, a move that may just be a season-breaker for the Patriots.

Last season, the Patriots had a high-scoring offense with an average defense on the other side of the ball. The Patriots' defense has remained mostly intact, something that Patriots fans should be excited about.

Some may argue that Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league, but can he really be productive with Danny Amendola, a hurt Gronkowski, and an injury prone Hernandez? It looks like Brady can get the job done, but the Patriots may not be looking like themselves this upcoming season.

The AFC East:

Now, will the Patriots even pose a threat to the AFC East?

The Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets would like to think that they could catch up to the Patriots, but I think only one team has the potential to do so: the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins acquired guys like WR Mike Wallace and LB Dannell Ellerbe to try and upgrade their offense and defense. When you look at Miami and see Wallace, Ellerbe, Cameron Wake, and Ryan Tannehill, there could definitely be some problems that the Patriots have with this team.

Do I think the Dolphins will win the AFC East? No. Although I do believe that the Dolphins will give them a run for their money, and they'll sweep the Patriots this year.

The fact that the Dolphins winning the AFC East is even being discussed proves that there is something wrong with the Patriots.

The AFC:

The AFC looks stacked with impressive teams this year. The Broncos, Texans, Ravens, Bengals, Colts, and possibly Chargers look to hurt the Patriots in the run for the playoffs.

The Patriots will have to compete with the AFC-Favorite Broncos, along with the other great teams from other divisions. For the Patriots, this may be a troubling thought. With the lack of offense that the Patriots have, AFC defenses may be too much for the defending AFC East Champs.

Overall, I imagine the Patriots will make the playoffs, but you never know. There could be a few emerging powerhouses in the AFC, and they aren't in the Boston area.

The Ravens:

Now, it's time to take a look at the Patriots vs. the Ravens, which will be an actual game played in Week 16. The game may not even matter, as both teams could possibly already be locked for the playoffs, but it also could decide one of the team's playoff position or whether they make the playoffs or not.

The Ravens were 2-0 last season against the Patriots, including the playoffs. With the two teams playing again this year, it continues to let this igniting rivalry stay alive.

The Ravens have gotten the best of the Patriots, as the Ravens' defense has been able to stop the offense and the Ravens' offense has been able to score points on the Patriots defense. The two teams play each other hard, but with the losses suffered by both teams, it makes it hard to predict the outcome of this matchup.

Hopefully, for Ravens fans sake, the Ravens get the victory in Week 16, along with any other time they play this upcoming season.

Whatever happens this season, it will be exciting to see how this rivalry continues and whether or not the defending Super Bowl Champions can get the best of the Patriots, once again.

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