Ravens have to control Moss — and the ball

History says the Patriots will defeat the Ravens on Sunday.
 
The Patriots were perfect (8-0) at Gillette Stadium this season. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have a perfect record (8-0) in home playoff games.
 
It only takes one play for Randy Moss to change a game.
It only takes one play for Randy Moss to change a game.

"We’ve played pretty well over the years in the playoffs, period — home and away," Brady told reporters Wednesday.

 
"I think we’ve always played well in the cold weather, too, just because we’re out there practicing in it every day and we’re used to the conditions.
 
"And the crowd gives us a big boost. Hopefully, we’ll keep that undefeated streak alive."
 
Should the Ravens even bother to show up? Of course, but to pull the upset they will need to do these three things: 
 

Keep Randy Moss in check

Wes Welker’s season-ending knee injury is a huge blow to the Patriots. His absence will allow the Ravens to pay more attention to Moss, the Patriots’ big-play receiver.
 
Moss has been criticized for taking plays off, but the Ravens need to be wary when Moss takes off downfield. He is the kind of player who can be silent for long stretches, then erupt for a few big plays that change the game. And the Ravens’ secondary has been vulnerable to deep passes, although coach John Harbaugh has seen improvement.
 
"We haven’t given up big plays like we did early," Harbaugh said. "The Minnesota game and the San Diego game were two games where we just gave up some really bad big plays that cost you games."
 
If Julian Edelman plays well in place of Welker, so be it. But the Ravens can’t allow Moss to have a huge day. He is the player most likely to beat them.
 

Avoid needless penalties

The Ravens have been penalized more yards (1,094) than any NFL team this season. They will not make an extended playoff run if that continues.
 
Some penalties are hard to avoid. But personal fouls like late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct are the kind of infractions the Ravens can’t afford.
 
Both Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs were flagged for questionable roughing-the-passer penalties against Brady during the Ravens’ 27-21 loss in Week 4 at Gillette.
 
Lewis called the penalties an "embarrassment to the game" back in October.
 
But when asked about them during a Wednesday conference call, Lewis wanted to avoid the subject.
 
"I am focused on trying to keep my team focused," Lewis said. "I can’t go dwell back into that. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. If they are going to throw a flag, they are going to throw a flag."
 
Lewis is right. The Ravens need to worry about how they will play, not how the game will be officiated. That said, the fewer the flags, the better their chances.
 

Run the ball

This is what the Ravens do best on offense, and the Patriots may not be capable of containing it.
 

In their October meeting, Ravens running back Ray Rice had 11 carries for 103 yards, including a 50-yarder. Willis McGahee has averaged 7.9 yards per carry the last four games. The Patriots allowed 4.4 yards per carry this season, and if Rice and McGahee get rolling, the Ravens can control time of possession and their prospects for an upset will increase.

 
This story appears in Jan. 10’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.
 
Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.
History says the Patriots will defeat the Ravens on Sunday.
 
The Patriots were perfect (8-0) at Gillette Stadium this season. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have a perfect record (8-0) in home playoff games.
 
It only takes one play for Randy Moss to change a game.
It only takes one play for Randy Moss to change a game.

"We’ve played pretty well over the years in the playoffs, period — home and away," Brady told reporters Wednesday.

 
"I think we’ve always played well in the cold weather, too, just because we’re out there practicing in it every day and we’re used to the conditions.
 
"And the crowd gives us a big boost. Hopefully, we’ll keep that undefeated streak alive."
 
Should the Ravens even bother to show up? Of course, but to pull the upset they will need to do these three things: 
 

Keep Randy Moss in check

Wes Welker’s season-ending knee injury is a huge blow to the Patriots. His absence will allow the Ravens to pay more attention to Moss, the Patriots’ big-play receiver.
 
Moss has been criticized for taking plays off, but the Ravens need to be wary when Moss takes off downfield. He is the kind of player who can be silent for long stretches, then erupt for a few big plays that change the game. And the Ravens’ secondary has been vulnerable to deep passes, although coach John Harbaugh has seen improvement.
 
"We haven’t given up big plays like we did early," Harbaugh said. "The Minnesota game and the San Diego game were two games where we just gave up some really bad big plays that cost you games."
 
If Julian Edelman plays well in place of Welker, so be it. But the Ravens can’t allow Moss to have a huge day. He is the player most likely to beat them.
 

Avoid needless penalties

The Ravens have been penalized more yards (1,094) than any NFL team this season. They will not make an extended playoff run if that continues.
 
Some penalties are hard to avoid. But personal fouls like late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct are the kind of infractions the Ravens can’t afford.
 
Both Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs were flagged for questionable roughing-the-passer penalties against Brady during the Ravens’ 27-21 loss in Week 4 at Gillette.
 
Lewis called the penalties an "embarrassment to the game" back in October.
 
But when asked about them during a Wednesday conference call, Lewis wanted to avoid the subject.
 
"I am focused on trying to keep my team focused," Lewis said. "I can’t go dwell back into that. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. If they are going to throw a flag, they are going to throw a flag."
 
Lewis is right. The Ravens need to worry about how they will play, not how the game will be officiated. That said, the fewer the flags, the better their chances.
 

Run the ball

This is what the Ravens do best on offense, and the Patriots may not be capable of containing it.
 

In their October meeting, Ravens running back Ray Rice had 11 carries for 103 yards, including a 50-yarder. Willis McGahee has averaged 7.9 yards per carry the last four games. The Patriots allowed 4.4 yards per carry this season, and if Rice and McGahee get rolling, the Ravens can control time of possession and their prospects for an upset will increase.

 
This story appears in Jan. 10’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.
 
Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*