The New England defense that will greet the
“They are much improved, even this season, on defense,” tight end
Sure, only three teams allowed more passing yards this season, and they allowed the eighth-most yards during the regular season. That is still similar to last season, when the Patriots asked a slot receiver,
But the Patriots have harassed quarterbacks and ball-carriers through the season. They picked off 20 passes during the regular season, and -- attention
The Patriots have been forcing turnovers all season long. That’s what happens when lesser quarterbacks try to keep pace with
But they are blitzing more since Talib was inserted in their starting lineup in Week 11. A former first-round draft pick of the
"He is a great corner. He is a playmaker," said wide receiver
That has been the most notable of many personnel changes in the secondary. The Patriots had another new starter, rookie
Of course, what happens in the trenches will also play a role in the outcome. The Patriots still have
The Patriots have also gotten major contributions from their two first-round draft picks, defensive end
“Ninkovich, obviously, he flashes, making great plays at great times,” guard
The Ravens should be able to move the ball against the aggressive Patriots, but the keys will be avoiding turnovers -- which give Brady extra opportunities, usually with a shorter field, to do his thing -- and scoring points when they near the red zone. That won't be easy, as the Patriots ranked ninth in the league in points allowed at 20.7 per game during the regular season and were in the middle of the pack in red-zone defense.
"We know how potent their offensive can be, so we know we have to be able to put up some points against them, and that will be our challenge this week," said Pitta, who pointed out that the Ravens are different, too.
Not as different as those Patriots, though.