This should not be big news to fans of the Baltimore Ravens, but despite their being winless in their games against the New England Patriots, they are indeed capable of going into Foxboro and beating the Patriots Sunday afternoon. While they came close earlier his season, mistakes and penalties led to their first disappointing loss of many in 2009. Now they have a great chance to make that all fade away into the distant memory with an upset victory and another chance to do the same thing to the Indianapolis Colts.
You can be very sure the Patriots are thinking the same thing and they were not so excited to see the Ravens earn that final Wild Card slot last Sunday afternoon. New England, despite their loss to Houston, would have preferred to see the Texans or even the Denver Broncos in the first round rather than the hard hitting AFC North runner up Ravens.
Teams around the league might not say it publicly, but they fear the pain that both the Ravens and their division counterparts, the Pittsburgh Steelers, bring each game. Football is a violent game but the Ravens and Steelers bring the brutality like few other teams due week in and week out, despite the losses both teams have suffered this season. Teams have to fight to the end to earn their victories over the Ravens and the Patriots are already dealing with recent or lingering injuries that might affect their abilities to play at full strength. Meanwhile the Ravens are flexing their muscles with their impressive running game that has seen both Ray Rice and Willis McGahee have huge games down the stretch and pound the rock as well as anyone the Patriots have faced all season.
If the Ravens can limit the penalties and mistakes, unlike what they did in the teams' first meeting, then there is no reason why Baltimore cannot run over the Patriots and win that game and move onto another showdown with a team that just barely beat them this season.
The limiting of mistakes, much less penalties in big games is a huge obstacle for this team, as they have proven that they have a difficult time avoiding both in the tougher games Rolling up big stats with minimal mistakes has led the team to their nine victories, but the opposite has happened in their seven losses, including the week four loss at New England. A fumble on the opening kickoff, plus a Red Zone interception by Joe Flacco at the end of the first half, could have changed the face of the game early on. Add in the two personal foul penalties by Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, both on third downs, and we have a very different game. In fact, if those things don't happen, Mark Clayton's dropped pass never happens as we'd most likely kick the field goal on 4th down at that point of the game for the win or extend our lead that we surely should have had.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda, but...didn''t happen. However, the Ravens know that "if" they can limit those things from happening, that they have every right to be confident going into Foxboro and leaving as the happier team Sunday.