The New England Patriots (10-2) play host on Monday to the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) in what might the toughest test of the season for the Patriots outside of the Seahawks. The Ravens come into this game boasting one of the best defenses in the league while the Patriots continue to have one of the better offenses in the league. The Ravens are looking to win this game and gain the lead of the AFC North away from the Steelers (8-5 but lost to Baltimore in the first match-up between them). Meanwhile, the Patriots look to strengthen their hold on both the AFC East and the top seed in the AFC.
For New England, they come into tonight with the fifth highest scoring offense in the league (26.6) and the fourth most offensive yards per game (387.5). In the eight games that Tom Brady has played in this season, he is fourth among quarterbacks in passing yards per game (309), second in passer rating (113.1), second in passing yards per attempt (8.18) and third in completion percentage (68.9%). As a team, the Patriots have only thrown one interception in the league, lowest in the NFL. New England as a team has only given up 20 sacks this season, tied for fifth lowest in the league. And Patriots quarterbacks have combined for 23 passing touchdowns this season, which is good for 10th in the league.
The Patriots have enjoyed a productive running game this season, including the sixth most rushing yards per game (117.3) and the sixth most rushing touchdowns (14). The highly productive run offense has been led by veteran LeGarrette Blount. Blount leads the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns this season while being eighth in rushing yards per game (79.8) and sixth in rushing attempts (230). Blount has also been solid with ball security as well, only having two fumbles through the first 12 games of the season. He also has done well to keep the offensive drive going for the Patriots, rushing for 53 first downs (sixth in the NFL). James White has been a very productive third down back this season, including being tied for fourth among running backs in receptions (47) and targets (67) and 10th among all running backs with 32.8 receiving yards per game. White also is tied for the second most receiving touchdowns among running backs (four).
For the Patriots defense, they have performed well this season. New England is tied with Baltimore and the Vikings allowing only 17.3 points per game. The Patriots are also only giving up 337.3 yards of total offense per game, good for ninth best in the league. The Patriots have been above average against the pass for the most part this season, allowing the 13th least passing yards per game (243.0), eighth least passing touchdowns (17, tied with Pittsburgh) and the ninth lowest completion percentage (61.4%, tied with Tampa Bay). The Patriots have also been solid against the run as well, including giving up 94.3 yards per game (good for eighth lowest in the league) and tied for third in giving up only six rushing touchdowns on the season as well. The Patriots are also allowing only 4.0 yards per carry, good for 11th in the league while forcing 10 fumbles, tied for first in the league with Minnesota and the Jets. Overall, this defense may struggle at times, but it has been very solid overall this season.
For the Ravens, while they are known for their terrific defense this season, their offense is much more on the average side. They are 21st in the league in points per game (21.3) and 16th in total yards per game (347.7). For their passing offense led by Joe Flacco, they are 10th in 258 passing yards per game, tied for 22nd in passing touchdowns (15) while tied for 16th in the NFL with 11 interceptions. Flacco's passer rating (84.1) is 25th among qualified quarterbacks while his completion percentage (64.6%) is 14th. Flacco has also taken 23 sacks this season, tied for 20th among quarterbacks while his passing yards per attempt is 29th (6.56) among 32 qualified quarterbacks.
For their rushing offense, it has been far from impressive this season. As a team, the Ravens have the fifth fewest rushing yards per game (89.7) and tied for the second fewest rushing touchdowns in the NFL (seven). They also have the sixth lowest yards per attempt (3.7) but are tied for the third lowest fumbles this season (three). Among qualified running backs, Terrance West is 24th among 40 running backs with a 4.0 yards per carry average and 52.4 rushing yards per game as well. Overall, this run offense is much worse when compared to average-at-best passing offense that the Ravens have this season.
The bread and butter of the Ravens team is their defense, which is allowing the fewest total yards (296.1) and points (17.3, tied with New England and Minnesota) this season. For their pass defense, the Ravens are giving up the seventh fewest yards per game (222), tied for 15th with 21 touchdowns while collecting the third most interceptions (14) this season. They have also accumulated 28 sacks this season, tied for 14th most this season while allowing for the 10th lowest passer rating of the season (85.5). Their run defense has been among the best in the NFL this season. They have allowed the fewest yards per game (73.8) and touchdowns (four) this season along with allowing the fewest rushing yards per game (3.4) in the NFL. Also, they have accumulated the third most fumbles with eight this season. Overall, this is an extremely tough defense that matches up well against a strong Patriots offense.
This will be an interesting match-up to watch through the game as the Ravens tout a strong defense while the Patriots have an equally strong offense. This game could come down to the Patriots defense against the Ravens offense, but this game will be won by the team who can be better in all aspects of the game. One of more entertaining games on Monday night this season, it could very well end up being one of the best games this season.