Week 4 offers clues for Ravens-Patriots
"Bruschi's Breakdown" is a must-read every week at ESPNBoston.com, even if you're not a Patriots fan. His analysis and the way Patriots reporter Mike Reiss presents it make you feel smarter for reading.
Bruschi offered this take on how the Patriots' victory over the Ravens in Week 4 foretells what might happen Sunday:
I think we have a very good idea of how this game is going to go if you look back at that first game. Even though it was a long time ago, I think you can take some of the key indicators from the first game and anticipate some of them having a good chance to repeat themselves.
One thing I noticed was that the Patriots really started to attempt to establish a running game, and it helped set up favorable second- and third-down situations. The best example of that came at the end of the first quarter, when it was fourth-and-1 at the Ravens' 3-yard line. Sammy Morris met Ray Lewis in the hole, head to head, and got the first down. The quarter ended and after recovering from a false-start penalty, Tom Brady scored on a sneak through the middle of the defense from the 1. I believe that was a message not only to the Ravens but to themselves -- they were not only establishing the run and able to pick up a yard in critical situations, but they were also telling the Baltimore Ravens, one of the toughest teams in the league, that we can play that game also.
But the Patriots won't have Wes Welker for the rematch. Here's what Bruschi had to say about that:
Offensively, I don't think you count on Edelman like you counted on Welker. If your order of importance was Randy Moss/Wes Welker, or Wes Welker/Randy Moss, I think now that order changes to Randy Moss, Kevin Faulk and coming in tied for third would be Edelman and Benjamin Watson. Other players must be utilized.
[Offensive coordinator] Billy O'Brien has to find ways to get Faulk out of the backfield. They've shown they can get Faulk in empty formations or through various check-downs or the screen game. Watson will run his usual routes but possibly will be targeted more than in the past. I'm still hoping for that infamous tight end screen.
Now go read the whole thing.