BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are gearing up for their AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette on Saturday, and while New England is the top team in the AFC, there is some concern around these parts.
The Ravens seem to always cause a lot of nervousness when they face the Patriots — especially in the playoffs — and there are a couple of good reasons:
– Joe Flacco is good enough to win. Say what you want about Flacco, but he’s become a big-time player in the playoffs. He’s 10-4 in his postseason career, and over his last five playoff games (all Baltimore wins) has thrown 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was named MVP of the Super Bowl two years ago, and has been clutch when it has mattered most.
– They get after the quarterback. Baltimore finished tied for second in the NFL with 49 sacks during the regular season. Elvis Dumervil led the pack with 17 sacks, while Patriot hater Terrell Suggs racked up 12 of his own.
The Ravens sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times last weekend in the Wild Card round, and nothing was easy for Big Ben during the game. Given the Patriots recent issues on the offensive line, and some questions about their depth on that front, the Baltimore pass rush could wreak some havoc on Saturday night. That’s bad news for Tom Brady.
– It’s on tape. There are a couple of teams that have never beaten the Patriots at Gillette in the Tom Brady era. The Ravens are not one of them.
Baltimore has two victories at Gillette — in the playoffs — so the invincibility factor that the Pats have on most teams is gone with this matchup. The Ravens have been able to win at Gillette before, so there’s no reason to think they can’t do it again.
– The Ravens simply get it. Their identity is set in stone and they know who they are defensively and offensively. Baltimore has a solid front office and John Harbaugh is the right coach for that team. The distractions from the Ray Rice situation would have derailed most teams, but not the Ravens. They understand how to focus on the prize, and won’t be easily rattled on Saturday.
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones checked in with Levan Reid Tuesday night to further preview the big playoff matchup.
Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid!
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