When a lot of fan bases see the Patriots on their favorite team's schedule, a level of fear creeps in.
It's Tom Brady. The offense is dangerous. Bill Belichick, with all his perceived faults in the public eye, has had a long track record of success in the NFL. It's a team, no matter the personnel, you don't want to play.
Well, there's one group that doesn't get that feeling. That would be the Ravens, a team that's played the Patriots well over the past two years. The style of defense Baltimore employs matches up well with what the Patriots want to do offensively.
New England's goal is to hit teams with quick timing routes underneath to set up matchups on the outside. With Baltimore's ability to be physical at the line of scrimmage, that could cause problems for the small receivers Brady and the Patriots rely on.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots rank 31st in the NFL in rushing defense. The last time Ray Rice went against a poor front, against the Bears, he had his best day rushing the ball.
Though Joe Flacco will likely be limited in the pocket with his knee injury, there are still some matchups to take advantage of. With Aqib Talib figuring to shadow Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta could find some openings and Jacoby Jones could also see some one-on-one matchups that work to his advantage.
Point is, this is a very winnable game for the Ravens. In fact, I thought the Ravens had less of a chance to defeat the Lions last week than the Patriots this week. In a sense, I'll actually be surprised if the Ravens don't walk off what could be a sloppy M&T Bank Stadium field with a victory.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Patriots 21