Ravens vs. Patriots
at M&T Bank Stadium, 8:20 p.m. NBC
The line: Ravens -3.
Last week: Ravens (1-1) lost 24-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles; Patriots (1-1) lost 20-18 to the Arizona Cardinals.
Series: Patriots lead, 7-1. Ravens have never won a regular season meeting.
Last meeting: Ravens lost 23-20 in AFC championship game on Jan. 22 in New England.
Burning question: Will the real offense stand up for the Ravens? Is it the one that posted 37 points in the opener vs. Cincinnati or the one that couldn't score a TD in the second half last week at Philadelphia?
Keys to victory on offense: RB Ray Rice only had 16 carries for 99 yards. He had 78 yards on seven carries in the first half alone, but the Ravens opted to pass in critical situations late in the game, including third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 on their final drive in Philadelphia territory. Both were unsuccessful. Using FB Vonta Leach and No. 2 RB Bernard Pierce more in the attack can help. The receiving corp had difficulty getting free against the physical, aggressive play of the Eagles' corners. They should have an easier time with the Patriots' secondary by stretching the field and opening the underneath routes for the running backs and TE Dennis Pitta.
Keys to victory on defense: The Ravens were significantly better against the run, holding the Eagles' LeSean McCoy to 81 yards on 25 carries, by limiting his ability to cutback with rookie LB Courtney Upshaw performing surprisingly well in the starting lineup. The Pats have Stevan Ridley, who had 125 yards in the opener and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry this season. One area where the Ravens have yet to prove adequate is in their ability to pressure the quarterback. Pats QB Tom Brady flourishes when he has time and can pick apart a secondary. T Haloti Ngata is the only Ravens lineman who has shown any consistency in this area. Plus, the zone coverage by the linebackers was terrible against Philadelphia as TE Brent Celek had a career high 157 yards receiving. Brady's favorite target is TE Rob Gronkowski, who set an NFL record for receiving yards at his position last year. If the coverage doesn't improve underneath, then getting to Brady off of his spot is even more imperative.
Wild card: Ravens rookie K Justin Tucker is 6-for-6. He hit from 48, 51 and tied a club record from 56 last week alone. The Ravens lost a chance to go to the Super Bowl when then-K Billy Cundiff misfired on a 32-yard FG. That's extremely unlikely to happen with Tucker.
Injury report: RAVENS -- Doubtful: T Jah Reid (calf); Probable: LB Paul Kruger (back), LB Jameel McClain (knee), DE Pernell McPhee (knee), T Michael Oher (ankle), S Bernard Pollard (ribs), CB Lardarius Webb (knee). PATRIOTS -- Out: DT Justin Francis (ankle), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle); Questionable: C Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Brandon Deaderick (ankle) CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), TE Daniel Fells (shin), WR Brandon Lloyd (thigh), G Logan Mankins (hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), RB Shane Vereen (foot), T Sebastian Vollmer (back); Probable: S Patrick Chung (shoulder).
Prediction: Ravens 28-24.