With TE Rob Gronkowski out for the season, the New England Patriots find its offense at their most devoid, while the Ravens are its healthiest. For early December, the Ravens' injury-free state is a blessing.
This Ravens defense features the best secondary head coach John Harbaugh has had. No longer are there Rashaan Melvins or Cary Williams' for Patriots QB Tom Brady to pick on. The Ravens face the Patriots at a time where they are peaking. The Patriots, on the other hand, are not.
In the win against the Rams, the Patriots offense did not look as explosive as its early version with Gronkowski. The loss of Gronkowski has hampered the ability for the Patriots to stretch the field vertically. Patriots WR Julian Edleman still provides yards-after-catch but without the vertical element, the Ravens safeties will be able to play cover 2 ten or fifteen yards away from the line of scrimmage, instead of 20, which would be required with Gronk split out wide or in the slot.
If the Patriots are forced to dink and dunk, the Ravens defense will have to do what it has done all year: Rally to the football and tackle. The Ravens second rated defense by DVOA faces its biggest test in terms of stakes with the playoffs on the line. However, the Ravens are peaking while the Patriots are stagnating.Execution is the only thing standing in a way of a gigantic win for the Ravens.