Monday, January 4, 2010
Quick Take: Ravens at Patriots
By Tim Graham
Three things to know about Sunday's Ravens at Patriots wild-card playoff game:
1. Julian Edelman must sustain his Wes Welker impersonation. The Patriots lost their MVP when Welker suffered a left knee injury Sunday against the Texans. Edelman, a rookie who played quarterback at Kent State, won't be able to replace Welker. But Edelman could mitigate Welker's absence enough to keep the Patriots' offense effective. Edelman had a rather Welker-like performance Sunday with 10 receptions for 103 yards. When the Patriots beat the Ravens in Week 4, Welker was coming off an injury that sidelined him for two games and caught six passes for 48 yards. Edelman had one reception for 12 yards.
2. Ravens passing offense shouldn't be a major threat. The Patriots have been most vulnerable this season against prolific passers. In their five most-recent defeats, opposing quarterbacks aired it out against the Patriots' secondary. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Schaub, even Kyle Orton and Chad Henne. The Dolphins, with one of the league's better running offenses, had Henne throw 52 times to beat the Patriots in Week 13. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is capable of a big day, but the Ravens are more comfortable on the ground. They ranked 18th in passing offense, but fifth in rushing offense.
3. A balanced attack worked well before. The Patriots defeated the Ravens in Week 4 with a remarkably evenhanded offense. The Patriots ran 30 times and passed 32 times. Within those plays, the ball was spread around liberally. No running back had more than seven carries for 25 yards. Tom Brady completed passes to nine targets: four receivers, four backs and one tight end.