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Patriots favored to win
FoxSports.com lists New England favored by one, while Vegas has the Pats favored by two. In other words, expect the Ravens-Patriots showdown to come down to the wire. That means Sunday’s game could be reminiscent of the 2007 matchup between these two heavy weights, although the Ravens are hoping for a different outcome.
Baltimore has the opportunity to redeem its 2007 Monday Night Football loss in which the Ravens nearly ruined the Patriots’ undefeated regular season. Instead, the Pats escaped by putting together a 73-yard game-winning drive in the final minutes that required two fourth-down conversions. One came off a penalty and the other was after Baltimore made an incredible fourth-down defensive stand, but a timeout had been called before the play and the down was played again. It’s still unsettling to think about.
John Clayton: Brady not in-sync with receivers
John Clayton of ESPN believes Patriots QB Tom Brady is still rusty and isn’t in-sync with his receivers after coming off knee reconstruction surgery. Clayton reports:
“Brady’s mechanics still need work. His long passes aren’t as accurate because he’s not getting his legs into the throws. But even though his play has been up and down so far, Brady’s leadership hasn’t wavered. Brady’s always trying to motivate his teammates, regardless of how the Patriots’ offense is performing.”
Bettis disagrees, says Brady is back.
Jerome Bettis of Sports Illustrated had an opposing analysis of Tom Brady. While Bettis did agree that Brady “wildly missed” his receivers in the first half of the Patriots 26-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons last week, the former Steelers RB said Brady was a different man in the second half.
“We finally saw that “Ah-ha!” moment that you look for after an injury like the one Brady suffered last year; that moment where he finally stops thinking about it…a confident Tom Brady is something to be scared of.
Containing Wes Welker…again
ESPN’s KC Joyner notes that in the 2007 Pats-Ravens matchup, the Ravens held WR Wes Welker to three catches for 18 yards, the lowest yardage total of his Patriots career. Joyner believes Pats head coach Bill Belichick will game plan to get Welker into the mix early and often against the Ravens.
Will Welker even be healthy for Sunday’s showdown?
Welker missed his second straight game with a knee injury last week, and may not even be able to play when the Ravens visit Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. We’ll keep an eye on the injury report this week to gain a better perspective of Welker’s status.
The Patriots haven’t been stellar, but it doesn’t matter
Michael Silver wrote an excellent article about this week’s opponent in which he compares the ’09 Patriots to past New England squads. If you’re not late for work, read the entire article. If you are late for work, here’s the synopsis:
The ’09 Patriots do not bear much resemblance to Belichick’s dominant, arrogant 16-0 ’07 team, but Silver doesn’t think that matters because the ’07 team didn’t win the Super Bowl. The ’09 Patriots have more in common with Belichick’s ‘pre-’07 New England crews who didn’t overwhelm opponents but found a “revolving cast of heroes” to step up and win a majority of games. Three of those teams did win Super Bowls.
That means if Baltimore is to beat New England on Sunday, the Ravens will have to stop more than one or two weapons. Otherwise, Belichick may call upon and find an unexpected somebody to step up and win the game for the Pats.
Moss’ “lazy” attitude is welcome in Sunday’s contest
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com noted that after watching WR Randy Moss against Atlanta on Sunday, “Two things became clear. Moss is the most physically gifted receiver in the NFL but, quite possibly, he remains one of the laziest.”
The CBS analyst said Moss generated a “lackluster blocking effort” and when the ball wasn’t going to him, the 6-4 WR jogged some of his routes.
Oh, and some non-Pats/Ravens quick hits:
• Mike Preston reports that WR Derrick Mason credits his 800th-career catch milestone to his late friend, quarterback Steve McNair.
• Dan Arkush of ProFootballWeekly.com says that even if Rams QB Marc Bulger is healthy to start on the road against the 49ers this Sunday after suffering a bruised rotator cuff, some St. Louis fans are calling for backup QB, and former Raven, Kyle Boller to start.
• In an online Q&A with fans, Baltimore Sun’s Ken Murray said Ravens DE Paul Kruger “has shown no interest in special teams, and he’s not close to getting on the field. I’d forget about him for now. He needs an attitude adjustment.”