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Patriots @ Ravens: Five things to watch for

After losing in heart-breaking fashion to the Patriots in last years AFC Championship game, the Ravens will be looking for revenge. The Patriots head to Baltimore this weekend to take on the Ravens in arguably the NFL’s game of week. Both teams are coming off difficult losses in Week 2 and are looking to get back on the right track. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 4-0 in his regular season career against the Ravens but has done so with only a 77.9 QB rating. Sunday’s game in Baltimore could be his toughest test against Ray Lewis and company to date.

Here are five things to watch for on Sunday night:

1. Patriots offensive line vs. Ravens defensive line

Brady was sacked four times last weekend against the Cardinals as the offensive line struggled to protect him all game. With Dan Connolly questionable for Week 3, will the Patriots be able to give him enough time against the Ravens ferocious defense? Baltimore coach John Harbaugh knows that Brady is not the same quarterback when he faces pressure in the pocket. Look for Baltimore’s defensive line to bring pressure regardless. Will the the Patriots have an answer if the offensive line cannot protect Brady effectively?

2. The Rejuvenated Patriots defense

The New England defense has been the biggest improvement from last season thus far. Rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower are proving to be big time playmakers in their first two games. The defense as a whole has only allowed 284 and 245 yards of total offense in the first two weeks of this young season. That being said, the Patriots will face their biggest defensive challenge against Ray Rice and the Ravens on Sunday. Let’s see if the young defense can step up in possibly its biggest game of the season.

3. Joe Flacco

Which Joe Flacco is going to show up this week? Flacco looked like a true elite quarterback in Week 1 against the Bengals throwing for 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He struggled in Week 2 against a good Philadelphia defense completing just 52.4% of his passes with a 66.8 QB rating. The key with Flacco on Sunday night will be decision making and turnovers. The Patriots are a team that thrive on winning the turnover battle. If Flacco can make good decisions and keep the turnovers to a minimum, the Ravens will have a great shot at beating the Patriots.

4. Ravens pride

The Baltimore Ravens are an extremely prideful football team and don’t like it when their pride is damaged. The Ravens are an angry football team and will be seeking revenge for last year’s AFC Championship game. The Ravens are going to show up and have a great game. Count on it. Will the Patriots have an answer?

5. Replacement officials

Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis were extremely vocal about the officials after last weeks game against the Eagles, and rightly so. The officials have been horrendous in just the first two weeks of the NFL season. This game could come down to the last two minutes, as it often does with the Patriots and Ravens. No one wants the officials to be a deciding factor, but it is something to watch out for Sunday night.