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Ravens' What To Watch For: New England Patriots

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It's interesting that this weekend's match-up between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots has two teams that are trying to stop being thought of as one-dimensional. The Ravens, of course, have been long considered a defensive powerhouse while the Patriots are thought to be only offensive-minded. Until now.

The Ravens busted out their offense in the first game of the season, putting up over 400 yards against a supposedly tough Cincinnati Bengals defense. The Patriots defense, normally thought to be their weakness, held the Tennessee Titans and RB Chris Johnson, to only 20 yards rushing. Both teams had impressive victories in week one.

Week two saw both teams go down to defeat, the Ravens on the road to a tough Philadelphia Eagles team that moved the ball on the Ravens stout defense all day. The Patriots lost a home opener for the first time in eleven years when they suffered the exact same fate as the Ravens did eight months ago in the AFC Championship Game when normally deadly accurate kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the game-winning field goal from 42 yards out.

Now you have two teams in a state of flux. The Ravens offense, at least until the second half of the Eagles game, was high-flying and apparently ready to carry the defense if needed. The Patriots defense has shut down two opponents and only their offensive inabilities has them at 1-1 instead of 2-0.

Now they meet once again, this time in Baltimore for the first time since 2007, with questions abundant on what their identities are going to be in 2012. Can the Ravens regain their offensive prowess from week one and can they exact revenge for last year's devastating loss?

Can the Patriots also resuscitate their offense despite the loss of tight end Aaron Hernandez and will the recent addition of free agent Kellen Winslow, Jr. suffice? Is this New England defense the real deal and is the Baltimore defense still among the best in the league?

The winner of this game goes to 2-1 and the loser to 1-2, which will be tough pill to swallow for Ravens fans if they are on the short end of the score at home in a game that was circled on fan's schedules when they first were revealed. The Ravens need to prove they are once again a Super Bowl contender and need to win this game more than the Patriots, who can chalk it up to a tough road loss.

The big thing to watch for will be can the Patriots defense continue its upward climb to respect and justify its ranking that currently is higher than the Ravens defense after two games of the 2012 regular season?