NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 21, 2013

Patriots vs. Ravens: Sizing 'em up


Newburyport Daily News

---- — PATRIOTS (10-4) vs. RAVENS (8-6)

Today, 4:25 p.m., at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

TV: Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz and Phil Simms)

Radio: 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci and Scott Zolak)

The series: Patriots lead, 7-3, but Ravens have won two of three in playoffs.

Last meeting: Ravens 28, Patriots 13; at Foxboro, 2013 AFC Championship Game

Latest line: Ravens -2.5; Over/under total: 45

2013 STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Patriots Ravens

10-4 Record 8-6

1st, AFC East Standings 2nd, AFC North

390.7 (8) Offense 309.9 (29)

118.3 (12) Rushing 82.9 (29)

272.4 (6) Passing 227.0 (20)

372.7 (24) Defense 334.0 (9)

132.5 (31) Rushing 102.4 (7)

240.2 (18) Passing 231.6 (13)

+6 Turnover margin -2

BY THE NUMBERS

Patriots

2 – Games this season that the Patriots haven’t been penalized. This is the first time New England has accomplished the feat twice in a season.

11 – With a win today, Bill Belichick will tie Don Shula for the most divisional titles (11) in NFL history since the merger.

11 – Catches needed by Julian Edelman in the last two games to join the 100-catch club. The other two Pats to do it are Wes Welker (5 times) and Troy Brown.

Ravens

.664 – John Harbaugh’s career win percentage (71-36), placing him second among active coaches. No, he is not behind Bill Belichick (.656). He is behind his brother Jim (.725) in San Francisco.

50 – Points scored by kicker Justin Tucker in the last four Baltimore wins. The Ravens have scored a total of 88 points in those victories.

109.8 – Joe Flacco’s quarterback efficiency rating in the last four games against the Patriots. Clearly, he has a clue on what the New England is doing.

Keys for the Patriots

1. No celebration for Rice – Ray Rice needs 66 yards from scrimmage to become the team’s all-time leader. Make sure he doesn’t get it this week. Stopping the run and covering backs out of the backfield hasn’t exactly been a strong suit for this defense.

2. Kick for kick – Stephen Gostkowski can’t miss. He has to match Justin Tucker, who doesn’t miss from anywhere.

3. Keep them in front – Play as far back as you have to. You have to make the Ravens beat you without the quick strike. It nearly worked for the Lions on Monday night. The Pats must employ the same tactics.

Hector Longo’s prediction: Patriots 28, Ravens 25 (9-5 straight up; 3-11 vs. the spread)

Analysis: Same thing every week. The Patriots play to the level of the competition, hang in there and put it in Tom Brady’s hands. Most of the time, TB12 delivers. Last week’s last second pick was the exception. This time, Brady delivers in the final minute.