By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
October 01, 2009

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Frankly, it's been a little hard to focus on this Sunday's looming big game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. I've been wildly imagining the look on the poor Cumberland Farms clerk's face as the starting cornerback for the Patriots barrels in demanding that the police be called last Sunday morning just hours before kickoff.

That's the main reason why it's taken until Thursday night to re-focus my energy away from such juvenile endeavors such as that and "you-tubing" virtually any clip from the "Pocket Money" guy, Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald that I can get my hands on. Refocused, I'm here to tell you that Sunday's game is going to go a long way towards determining just how the 2009 Patriots season is going to play out.

Truthfully, games in September aren't usually very good bell weathers. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, September football is about as distant of a memory as a Matt Young quasi-no hitter. But with so many questions surrounding the Patriots this season, any chance to get a temperature on this team is welcomed.

Last week's convincing victory against a decent NFC team, the Falcons, kept us from calling the therapists. Sure, the red zone offense was about as inept as my UMass-Lowell dating record. But in many ways, the game was a classic Belichick-era grind-it-out, bend-but-don't-break game that we were so used to seeing pre-2007. The Patriots were backed into a corner by the fans and the media because—Heaven forbid—they lost by a touchdown on the road to a decent team the week before. And the history of what happens when the Patriots have their graveside plots dug is fairly consistent.

They always, always dig out.

So that brings us to this Sunday's game against the class of the AFC through three weeks—the Baltimore Ravens. They are a very balanced team with a good quarterback, two good running backs, an aggressive defense and an attitude that they should be considered the team to beat in the AFC.

If the Patriots can match the aggressiveness of the Ravens by controlling the line of scrimmage they will have an excellent chance to win the game and get out of September with a comfortable 3-1 record. A loss on the other hand would give them two early losses against likely AFC playoff teams. And we all know how much of a kick in the pants that can be when it comes down to tiebreakers after last year's roller coaster ride.

It's not a complicated scenario, folks. Control the line of scrimmage, win the turnover battle, and win the battles on third down. Too often, we all try to make more out of analyzing the game than what is really is needed. Oh—and don't forget about turnovers, too.

The Patriots formula for success on Sunday is pretty simple to explain. Much easier to explain than just what in the world went down in a Cumbies on a quiet Sunday morning .