The Baltimore Ravens have control of their own destiny going forward, and they need to take advantage. Other seasons where the Ravens had to win out to make the playoffs, they were not successful, including the 2013 season. But this year's Ravens seem primed for success going into an important Monday night matchup with the New England Patriots.
Both teams are missing some players, but the Patriots have absent some especially big names including All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski. Nevertheless, a Tom Brady led offense is always potent, and the Ravens elite defense will need to impose their will on the Patriots offense in order to come out victorious.
This imposition of their will on their opponent starts with the Ravens defensive line. The advantage here is decidedly in the Ravens favor, with the Patriots featuring a second-year center, a rookie left guard, a second-year right guard, and a first-year tight end. It will be on the Ravens Pro Bowl caliber lineman in Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan, in addition to their stellar supporting cast of Lawrence Guy, Brent Urban, and Michael Pierce to penetrate and wreak havoc on the New England offense. A key will be the defensive line's penchant for deflecting passes. If the lineman can get their arms up, they can stifle the Patriots short passing game, which is Brady's answer to a dominant pass rush. If the Ravens can stop the run as they have done for most of the season, and shut down the short passing game too, the Ravens should have an easier path to a win then expected.