Ravens Have Their Hands Full

The Baltimore Ravens know that the Patriots were very close to losing their first game of the season against an underrated opponent. Like the Eagles were last Sunday, Baltimore is a 20-point plus underdog this week. What could have been deemed an insult against the Ravens defense in years past is just considered a challenge this season. Baltimore players understand they have their hands full.

The Ravens are essentially out of the playoffs at 4-7, and they have lost a franchise-worst five straight games.

With not much else to play for, the Ravens are motivated to become the first team to beat the New England Patriots this season.

"It's been a tough season for us," cornerback Samari Rolle said. "It hurts because we have the talent in here but not the answers. The sad part is Monday night is our Super Bowl."

The Ravens are struggling on offense and defense.

During the five-game losing streak, the offense has been held to 14 points or less four times. The defense has given up 30 points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1999.

"I'll never admit defeat but we got our hands full," offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "We've got to go out there and try to find a way."

During their five-game losing streak, the Ravens offense has fallen to No. 25 despite playing some of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Facing the defenses of Buffalo (31st), Cincinnati (28th), Cleveland (32nd) and San Diego (21st) during their skid, the Ravens have averaged 16.3 points and totaled 17 turnovers.

So what are the Ravens going to do against a New England defense that is ranked third in the NFL, is determined to confuse offenses with unpredictable schemes and is upset after giving up 28 points to the Philadelphia Eagles?

The Ravens defense has failed to consistently pressure the quarterback and force turnovers. Last Sunday, the Ravens had several blown coverages that led to touchdowns.

Plus, the Ravens have not fared well on national television, losing their last five games.

But coach Brian Billick said his team will be up for the challenge.

"It's Monday night against the best team in the league right now," Billick said. "Everybody wants to be the team that knocks off New England. That's a worthy goal. It will be a great opportunity for us in front of fans to show we're better than what we've shown."

The Ravens are 20 1/2-point underdogs, which is believed to be the largest point spread in team history.

Billick was asked if the struggles of his team had set up the Patriots for being overconfident.

"I do and we've worked pretty hard to do it," he said sarcastically.

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