A tough test lies ahead for the New England Patriots in Week 10.
They'll be tasked with slowing down a Baltimore Ravens team that's 6-2 on the season and boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL. But not only will Sunday night's game be a challenge for Cam Newton and the Patriots offense, it'll also be difficult for the Pats defense against dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson and Co.
Jackson hasn't played up to par with his 2019 MVP season, but there's no doubt he could make it a long night for New England just as he did in last year's matchup when the Ravens cruised to a 37-20 win.
On a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Matt Cassel joined Phil Perry and Tom E. Curran to discuss whether this Patriots D has any shot at keeping Jackson and the Baltimore offense in check.
"It's a difficult offense to stop based on all the pre-snap movements they give you, all the different eye candy, and then they run it right down your throat," Cassel said. "It's really Lamar that makes it all go, because he's reading one defender at the end of the line of scrimmage, and you take one wrong step and you're out the gate.
"The hard part for this Patriots defense right now is from a personnel standpoint they're lacking in terms of matching this personnel group man-to-man. They're not in their normal 3-4 defense where they get big on big and they bring a safety in the box. They're mainly in nickel, dime personnel groups and now you're going to have to somehow facilitate getting bigger guys down in the box to stop this run."
Perry notes another dimension of Baltimore's offense that could pose problems for New England, but also mentions one glaring weakness that the Patriots could take advantage of.
"I think size is something you've heard both Bill Belichick and Patriots defenders mention when they talk about this offense," Perry said. "You look at the offensive line, you start with Orlando Brown who is playing left tackle for them now. Massive, massive man. You're going to have to be dealing with that guy while your 'linebackers,' and I put those in quotation marks because a lot of times your linebacker is Adrian Phillips or Kyle Dugger. And Kyle Dugger on Orlando Brown is not a great matchup physically that you want to run out there when you're playing the run.
"I would say this about the Ravens, though. If you're talking about that matchup last year, some very key and important differences: No. 1, Ronnie Stanley's out hurt. No. 2, Marshal Yanda, Hall-of-Fame probably left guard, out and retired. ... That makes your offensive line worse and it's hurt their run game."
Also discussed on the new episode: Should Cam Newton be part of the Patriots' plans beyond this season? Did the Pats make a mistake not drafting Lamar Jackson in 2018? Can Cam Newton and the offense overcome Baltimore's defense? And official predictions for Sunday night's game.