The New England Patriots will face a tough challenge Sunday night in the Baltimore Ravens, the kind of opponent they really haven't had to deal with in their undefeated run through the first eight games of the NFL season.
The biggest obstacle for New England will be the tremendously talented, speedy Lamar Jackson at the helm of the Ravens offense. While the young quarterback had a strong rookie season that saw him elevated to a starting role in 2018, he's shown immense improvement throughout the course of this season -- something Patriots coach Bill Belichick has noticed.
"I think he's matured and gained experience like any player does from year one to year two and that's generally where you see a big jump," Belichick told his former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and Bob Papa on Sirius XM Radio this week. "I think one of the most impressive things about the Ravens offense in general is they move the ball, score a lot of points and don't turn it over. They don't lose the ball very often, they don't fumble, they don't throw interceptions, they don't have a lot of bad plays. They do a good job of protecting the exchanges and giving the ball to people who do a good job of taking care of the football."
More from Belichick:
The biggest area for Lamar's improvement would be his ball security, his judgment, decision making and overall execution of the passing game. It's better than what it was last year, I'm not saying it was bad last year, but it has improved and the addition of [Marquise] Brown and the development of [Mark] Andrews and the emergence of [Willie] Snead as a slot receiver, he's been able to take advantage of the other guys he's got on the field with him.
Jackson is a big reason the Ravens aret 5-2 and on top of the AFC North. With 1,650 total yards, 11 touchdowns and 136 completions in 215 attempts, Jackson will surely cause the Patriots "Boogeymen" defense some problems -- especially his 576 yards rushing this season.
New England's defense has yet to experience anything like Baltimore's offense. Having faced a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Luke Falk, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Colt McCoy, Daniel Jones, and Baker Mayfield, the Patriots defense hasn't had to deal with an elite running QB.
For more on how the Patriots plan to neutralize Jackson, click here for Phil's Perry's look at possible options.
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