Coming off a win on Monday night, the New England Patriots remain desperate for a win on Sunday night when they host the Baltimore Ravens. On the road, the Ravens are listed as 7-point favorites with the over/under for the game set at 43.5 points.
It wasn’t pretty, but Bill Belichick’s team was able to stop a four-game losing streak with a comeback win over the Jets on Monday. However, the Patriots are just 3-5 on the season, putting them on the outside of the playoff picture heading into the second half of the season. Only three of New England’s remaining games are against teams with a losing record, so it figures to be an uphill journey for the Pats.
Meanwhile, the Ravens sit at 6-2 midway through the season after a convincing win over the Colts last week. Of course, that record still puts them two games behind the Steelers in the AFC North. At the moment, Baltimore is the top team in the Wild Card standings. But there are four teams that are just a game behind them, so they can’t afford to have a letdown.
Good Enough for Now
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense aren’t quite as dynamic in 2020 as they were a year ago. Top receiver Marquise Brown is still inconsistent from one week to the next, while Mark Ingram has missed the last two games due to injury.
Jackson’s passing numbers are also down, and he’s on pace to be sacked nearly twice as many times as in 2019. Nevertheless, the Ravens have been remarkably consistent offensively, averaging 28 points per game and scoring at least 24 points in all but one game this year.
That being said, the New England defense has been a little better than the numbers would suggest. Even in their losses, the Patriots have been tough against the run and not allowed big plays.
That will be critical to keeping the Baltimore offense under wraps. Of course, the Patriots also allowed Joe Flacco to throw for over 250 yards and three touchdowns last week, so they can be vulnerable even when they shut down the run.
Offensively, the Patriots showed some life against the Jets, scoring 13 points in less than seven minutes to win on a last-second field goal. But that was against the Jets, and the New England offense had been a disaster in the previous month. Cam Newton has just two touchdown passes this season, reverting back to the days when he relied on his legs more than his arm.
This week, the Patriots will face the best defense in the NFL. The Ravens allow a league-low 17.8 points per game, holding five of their eight opponents to 17 points or less. However, some injuries concern in the Baltimore front-7 could hinder the team’s ability to stop the run and pressure the quarterback, creating a glimmer of optimism for Newton and the New England offense.
Not Your Older Brother’s Patriots
This matchup is nothing like the NFL expected when it scheduled it for primetime. The Patriots are barely treading water at the moment while the Ravens continue to look like one of the AFC’s elite teams. Even if Belichick has a perfect game plan, there’s too much of a gap between these teams. Bet on the Ravens to win and cover on Sunday night.