No Gronk, No Spark?
Rob Gronkowski finally got healthy and New England looked like a Super Bowl contender again. Now it’s back to the drawing board for Tom Brady and the New England offense as they must find a way to crack the code known as the Baltimore defense.
Can New England be effective against a hot Ravens team that has their playoff destiny in their hands? Baltimore has the lead over Miami for the number 6 spot in the AFC Wildcard Race via the tie-breaker. A win here would be huge for the Ravens.
Who Says a Kicker Isn’t a Football Player?
Teams can battle it out for 60 minutes of rock’em sock’em type football and a win or loss can be decided by a mere kick of the football.
This past Monday night, Justin Tucker showed that he’s “a football player” as he connected on 6 different occasions to give Baltimore a much needed 18-16 victory over Matthew Stafford, Megatron, and the Detroit Lions. The dome setting was perfect as Tucker nailed a 61 yard field goal attempt to keep Baltimore in control of their own destiny. Tucker connected on 4 kicks of 40 yards or more.
Although Joe Flacco is quite capable of throwing a bomb to Torrey Smith or Jacoby Jones, the Ravens quite frequently play these ugly low scoring games in which they have a difficult time in the red zone, but are still able to keep their opponents in check. Having a field goal kicker such as Justin Tucker is invaluable.
The Ravens have to be a bit concerned about their running game. Although Ray Rice averaged 4.7 yards per carry against Detroit, he’s been a disaster all season.
Rice is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry this season and you can see the frustration on his face and his poor extra-curricular behavior after some plays. Baltimore doesn’t want to get into a shootout with Tom Brady. Although Joe Flacco has the better options to throw the football to, a team doesn’t want to ruffle Tom Brady’s feathers; he’s capable of knocking the Ravens out of the playoff picture or at least hurting their chances to make it to the post-season.
With limited options, the New England offense is a team that relies on players that don’t make mistakes. With Gronk out of the lineup, expect to see a lot more of Julian Edelman in this game. At the beginning of the season, Edelman was a featured target because he was the only player with a proven history of being reliable.
Edelman is back in the mix and coming off of a 13 catch, 139 yard day with 1 touchdown in the loss to Miami. As long as he stay’s healthy, Danny Amendola is New England’s 2nd option as he had a huge 100 yard game against the Fins.
The Patriots will have a difficult time with their run game, Stevan Ridley is talented, but has gotten yanked by Bill Belichick on several occasions for fumbling the football. The running game is a question mark.
Even though Brady has had a history of being clutch, this game is more important to the Ravens and New England is somewhat short-handed. Look for a low scoring affair in which Baltimore will come out with the victory and solidify their spot as the number 6 team in the AFC Wildcard Race. Look for the game to go Under with the Ravens on top for your NFL pick.
Pick- Baltimore/New England UNDER 44 at Bet 365