At this point, they shouldn’t be. Here are five major points regarding the Pats that should make doubters feel a bit better. (Really, they should.)
First, and foremost, the Patriots still have Tom Brady. Everyone knows that right? Right now he’s leading the 8th ranked passing game in the NFL and on Sunday they will face the Ravens’ 27th rated pass “D.”
You might be saying, “But what about the Cardinal pass defense? They handled Brady and Co., especially in the red zone.”
Relax, as there is no comparison between the Ravens and Cardinals. The Cardinals brought the 11th ranked pass defense into Gillette Stadium and the 14th ranked rushing “D.” They are especially tough in the red zone – much tougher than the Ravens.
Second, although the Pats have lost Aaron Hernandez at tight end, they are still loaded when it comes to receivers. They just signed WR Deion Branch and that means that Bill Belichick will be adding some new elements to the Pats’ passing game this week.
Third: the New England running game is deep and the 20th rated Raven rush defense ain’t quite what it used to be. The Patriots are 9th in the run attack. I like this matchup.
Fourth on the list is the Patriot defense. They are 7th versus the pass and 5th against the run. That does not mean that they will have an easy time versus Baltimore. The Ravens are 10th in passing and 9th in rushing. In the AFC, the Ravens are tops in Points For. But they can be stopped and New England has the secondary and line to do so. The Pats have some good quickness, veteran experience and toughness. They are much better and deeper than last year’s worrisome squad.
Finally, the missed field goal by Stephen Gostkowski was a major difference-maker in last week’s loss to Arizona. He’s been a very reliable player. I believe he’ll be fine and so too will the Patriots. They are a solid squad and I do not expect them to lose two straight.