If you thought that this Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens–New England Patriots game will be a physical struggle for victory, you are right. The Ravens and the Patriots will beat the snot out of each other, and with history as an indicator, both teams’ Week 17 matchups will be a more difficult game than they imagine.
This will be the seventh Ravens-Patriots showdown in the last five years, and each of these games has a lingering effect on their game the following week. In the last five seasons the Patriots and the Ravens have combined for a 110-46 regular season record, good for a 70.5 winning percentage. That is an outrageous figure, but the two AFC beasts are a combined 4-3 in weeks after they have played one another (not counting if the team has a bye week between their next game).
It is not coincidence. Four of the last six meetings between Baltimore and New England have been one score contests, meaning long, vigorous games that take everything out of each team. In each team’s next game they grind to come away with the victory. Take 2012 for example. The Ravens won a Week 3 Sunday night game 31-30 on a Justin Tucker field goal that went over the uprights, not through them. That sent Bill Belichick off into a rare rage after the (replacement) officials did not review the play. Regardless, the Patriots were down 21-7 in the third quarter the next week at the Buffalo Bills before getting it together for a 52-28 win.
The Ravens, on the other hand, hosted the lowly Cleveland Browns and only won 23-16 proving these games have long-lasting effects on both teams. Therefore, when they take the field in Week 17 with playoff implications still at stake, do not be surprised if the Ravens take a while to get going against the Cincinnati Bengals or the Patriots cannot immediately find their groove versus the Bills.