In a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game, the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens knock heads Sunday in one of the marquee matchups of Week Three of the NFL season. With both teams 1-1 and coming off losses, oddsmakers have made the Ravens 3-point home favorites to avenge last year’s gut-wrenching playoff loss.
As many remember, the Patriots outlasted the Ravens 23-20 in last year’s AFC title game to make another Super Bowl in the regime of head coach Bill Belichik. Though New England was ultimately defeated in Super Bowl XLVI, the Ravens absolutely must have a chip on their shoulder following last week’s one-point loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and their playoff nemesis now heading to town.
New England suffered a huge blow this week when it was announced tight end Aaron Hernandez has an ankle injury that could keep him out a significant period of the season. Hernandez was a major piece on quarterback Tom Brady’s chess board and what effect it has will be felt Sunday.
The Patriots are coming off one of its worse losses in recent memory one week ago. Perhaps the Arizona Cardinals will wind up a playoff team, but it was still shocking to see them go into New England and come away straight-up winners as 13-point underdogs.
The Ravens defense may not be what it once when you consider all-time greats Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are getting long in the tooth. Also remember, last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs, is on Injured Reserve and won’t play this season. Despite that, the Patriots’ offense has showed mixed signals and this is the matchup is where the game could be decided.
This seems to be among the bigger puzzles of our NFL picks in Week Three. As good as New England looked in their opening-week victory, the loss to Arizona is hard to excuse. Baltimore seems like they have plenty to play for and look ready to cover the three-point line.