The Patriots have played just three games since last facing the Baltimore Ravens, whom they defeated in January during the AFC Championship game.
Many of the primary players involved with Baltimore's offense remain in place from that game, but Bill Belichick, when asked to peg the differences he's noticed in preparing for the Ravens this season, cited the incorporation of more up-tempo offense, led by quarterback Joe Flacco.
It's a challenge that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia talked about on a Tuesday conference call with reporters.
"I think every offense has some aspect of change of pace in your system, whatever it is," he said. "Two minute, no huddle, whatever you want to call it, obviously it looks like they're trying to implement more this year than maybe in the past, and are getting some excellent production out of it. Certainly it will be something that we have to contend with."
As was the case in 2011, Belichick says his team is ready to take on an offense that has explosive players such as receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones that can attack a defense vertically, too.
"And that's something that we saw last year as well," Belichick said. "And their tight ends too, don't forget about Dickson, Pitta, those guys are very good down the field, along with their receivers, Bolden. And they've got guys like Ray Rice they can hand the ball off to or throw it to out of the backfield, on screens, or whatever routes he's on. We all know he can take in the distance too. They're a very explosive group, all the way around. And they can throw it, they run after the catch, and they can hand it off to one of the top backs in football. Ray Rice is a very special player, and he can score from anywhere on the field on any play, run, pass, cut back play, outside play, inside play, it doesn't matter what it is, he can hit the home run on you. It's a very explosive group."