Patriots vs. Ravens: Spread Info, Line and Predictions
Though both the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots come into their Sunday Night Football contest atop their respective divisions, both are undoubtedly disappointed to be sitting with a 1-1 record.
Both the Patriots and Ravens lost winnable games in Week 2—a fact that may come back to haunt both teams as they vie for home-field advantage late in the season.
New England's offense stalled after losing Aaron Hernandez against the Arizona Cardinals, scoring just 18 points en route to a heartbreaking 20-18 loss.
On the other side of the field, Baltimore will try to atone for losing to Philadelphia in a game where the Eagles' offense turned the ball over four times.
With both teams desperate for a win, here's a look at everything you need to know about Sunday night's game.
When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD
Live Streaming: SNF All-Access
Spread: Ravens -3 (Bovada)
For bettors, this is probably the biggest stay-away game of the week. Two evenly-matched, marquee teams coming off losses being on Week 3's biggest stage is bound to elicit top-notch effort from both sides.
Which team will win on Sunday?
If the Patriots and Ravens do not finish within one score of each other, it will be one of Sunday's biggest shockers.
However, if you are in a pick 'em pool and have to make a choice, go with New England. The Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Patriots almost never lose in back-to-back weeks, and the team will have a full week to prepare without Aaron Hernandez.
Look for a stronger offensive performance from New England and a close victory on Sunday night.
Over/Under: 49.5 (Bovada)
For the Patriots to come out on top, it's likely that they will need to score in or near the 30-point range.
New England's defense looks markedly improved from last year's bunch, but this will be the secondary's first test against a top-tier quarterback in 2012. In last season's AFC Championship game, Joe Flacco threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns while picking up the slack for an ineffective Ray Rice.
Meanwhile, Baltimore allowed Michael Vick accumulate 372 yards through the air last week, and seemingly only stopped the Eagles' quarterback when he turned the ball over.
It's not the safest over of the week, but you should feel pretty comfortable betting on these two offenses to put up 50-plus points on Sunday.
Patriots Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
S Patrick Chung, Shoulder, Probable
G Dan Connoly, Concussion, Questionable
DE Brandon Deaderick, Ankle, Questionable
CB Alfonzo Dennard, Hamstring, Questionable
TE Daniel Fells, Shin, Questionable
DE Justin Francis, Ankle, Out
TE Aaron Hernandez, Ankle, Out
WR Brandon Lloyd, Thigh, Questionable
G Logan Mankins, Hip, Questionable
G Nick McDonald, Shoulder, Questionable
S Sterling Moore, Knee, Questionable
RB Shane Vereen, Foot, Questionable
T Sebastian Vollmer, Back, Questionable
Ravens Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
LB Paul Kruger, Back, Probable
LB Jameel McClain, Knee, Probable
DE Pernell McPhee, Knee, Probable
T Michael Oher, Ankle, Probable
S Bernard Pollard, Chest, Probable
T Jah Reid, Calf, Doubtful
CB Lardarius Webb, Knee, Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Patriots: TE Rob Gronkowski
With Hernandez out and recent signee Kellen Winslow unlikely to be familiar enough with the offense to make a lasting impact, Sunday should be a huge game for Gronkowski.
He's undoubtedly an every-week start and has paid massive dividends thus far in 2012, scoring a touchdown against both the Cardinals and Titans.
However, if the Patriots' offense is firing on all cylinders, this week could be Gronkowski's biggest game of the season. Brent Celek eviscerated the Ravens' defense last week, catching a game-high eight passes for 157 yards.
Gronk may not put up those numbers, but expect him to get over the 100-yard plateau and score a touchdown this week.
Ravens: RB Ray Rice
After two weeks of disappointment for the Baltimore back, look for the team to unleash its star against the Patriots.
The Ravens' coaching staff has been getting raked over the coals for not using Rice enough (he carried the ball just 16 times last week), so it's likely that they will emphasize him early and often.
Whether it's through the passing game or on the ground, Baltimore will need its best player to deliver a season-best performance. And as is almost always the case with Rice, expect him to deliver big against a questionable New England defense.
Key to Patriots Win: Score Touchdowns, Not Field Goals
Outside of the score, a look at the box score of New England's loss to Arizona last week would indicate a seemingly dominant performance.
The Patriots won the yardage, time of possession and turnover battles while looking like the better team throughout the contest.
Where New England lost the game was in its inability to convert third-downs inside Arizona territory. The Patriots went just 5-of-15 on third downs last week, and that failure led to four Stephen Gostkowski field goals that could have been touchdowns.
Those struggles cannot repeat if they hope to win on Sunday. The Ravens are a better team than the Cardinals and will take advantage of most New England mistakes.
An inability to convert on third down cost the Patriots last week's game and will be a key component of the result this week.
Key to Ravens Win: Control the Clock
If New England is able to successfully turn this game into a back-and-forth track meet, then there is no way Baltimore will be able to win.
The Ravens have historically kept games with the Patriots close by grinding the clock and using the running game to set up play-action throws.
Though it's apparent that the team is moving in a more pass-oriented direction, a reversion in style is necessary to keep Brady from torching the secondary.
Assuming they emphasize the run, the Ravens will be able to win time of possession and keep the scoring to a minimum.
Whether that will be enough to win remains to be seen.
While Baltimore has historically played the Patriots tough, its loss to Philadelphia opened up a ton of concerns going forward.
Look for Brady to come out on Sunday and have success relatively similar to Vick's, and for the Patriots to come out on top.
Final Score Prediction: Patriots 31, Ravens 23
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