Pats-Ravens Battle at Each Position
I put this together for something else but figured I would post it on here and get peoples thoughts and opinions.
Passing- Tough to compete with Tom Brady at the quarterback position and that is what Joe Flacco has to do. Brady was selected to the Pro Bowl and was named the Comeback Player of the Year. Brady has thrown for 4,398 yards on the year, 28 TD's and only 13 INT's. It was his best year statistically besides the record breaking 2007 season. Flacco on the other hand is only in his second year in the league. This year Flacco threw for 3613 yards, 21 TD's and 12 INT's. Those are actually pretty good numbers for a quarterback in his second year, but not many quarterbacks in the NFL can compete with Tom Brady. Edge: Pats
Rushing- The Ravens are known for their strong running game, while the Pats have been inconsistent at this position all year long. The Ravens use 2 running backs, Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Rice seeing the majority of the carries and McGahee on short yardage and in the red zone. On the year he has 1339 yards and 7 TD's. He averages 5.3 yards per carry. McGahee has 544 yards on the season and 12 TD's. The Patriots on the other hand have been very inconsistent with their running game. They have used 4 backs, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk. Morris and Taylor have all sat out multiple weeks with injuries. Maroney has been criticized for his fumbling issues and Faulk is more of a 3rd down back. On the season the Patriots have got 1680 yards from those 4 guys, which is 300 yards less than the 2 backs the Ravens use. Edge: Ravens
Wide Receivers- This would have been a clear edge to the Patriots if it wasn't for Welker's injury. The Patriots still have Randy Moss who on the year had 83 catches for 1263 yards and 13 TD's and was a late addition to the Pro Bowl. Julian Edelman will step into the role of Wes Welker at slot receiver. On the year he has 37 catches for 359 yards and 1 TD. He missed a good portion of the year with a broken arm. Other than that the Patriots are left with Sam Aiken and Isiah Stanback who don't have much experience at wide receiver. Before this year Aiken was a special teams player and Stanback was a backup quarterback with Dallas. The Patriots will need contributions from their tight ends Ben Watson and Sam Baker and catches out of the backfield from their backs to help off set the loss of Welker. The Ravens number one receiver is Derrick Mason who on the year had 73 catches for 1028 yards and 7 TD's. Other than that the Ravens only have Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington at the wide receiver position who have a combined 3 TD's. The Ravens do get a major contribution out of the backfield from Ray Rice who has caught 78 passes for 702 yards and has 1 TD. The Ravens tight end Todd Heap also is a factor. He has 6 TD's on the year. It's pretty tough to say the Patriots have the edge in the receiving game without Welker. Edge: Ravens
Defense- Both defenses are physical and very good. The Ravens are 3rd in points per game (16.3), while the Patriots are 5th (17.8). The Ravens have 3 pro bowlers on the defensive side of the ball with linebacker Ray Lewis, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, and saftety Ed Reed all getting the invite to Miami. The Patriots have just 2, defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and the recently added safety Brandon Merriweather. The teams are about the same when defending the pass. The Ravens are tied for 8th in the league while the Patriots are 12th. When it comes to defending the run the Ravens have the edge. The Ravens are 5th in the league (93.3) and the Patriots are 13th (110.5). Really tough to go against the Ravens defense. Edge: Ravens
Special Teams- The Patriots have Stephen Gostkowski as their place kicker who on the year is 26/31 on field goal attempts and has made all his extra points. He is 2/3 of field goals of 50+ yards. The Ravens switched their kickers midway through the season when Steven Hauschka struggled, the Ravens called in Billy Cundiff. On the year he is 12/17 and had made all of his extra points. He hasn't made a field goal of 50+ yards. The Patriots have not had a set return man all year but have got a fair production from everyone they have put back there. The Ravens have a dangerous returner in Lardarius Webb who averages 26.2 yards per return. The teams are pretty even on special teams but you have to give the edge to the Patriots with Gostkowski. Edge: Pats
Coaching- Like competing with Tom Brady at the quarterback position, it's almost next to impossible to compete as a coach with Bill Belichick. He has won 3 Super Bowls with the Pats and is for certain a hall of fame coach. John Harbaugh is only in his 2nd year as a head coach, but did lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game last season. There is no one that can compete with Belichick. Edge: Pats
Prediction: The Patriots have never lost a playoff game at home in the Brady-Belichick era. The Patriots are also 8-0 at home this year. It is really tough to go against the Patriots at home in the playoffs. Patriots 23 Ravens 17
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