Ravens

Patriots finally preparing for cold weather

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Patriots finally preparing for cold weather

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Bill Belichick doesn't masquerade as a meteorologist.

However, the New England coach once again has his team acclimated for whatever inclement weather may swoop in Sunday for the season finale against Miami.

Rather than shifting practice indoors as they have before, the Patriots practiced outside Thursday despite cold, driving rain, and again Friday in chilly temperatures in anticipation of a winter storm expected to dump a few inches of snow late Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to hover in the mid-to-low 20s for kickoff Sunday afternoon.

``Whatever we get Sunday, we get. We're not trying to forecast it,'' Belichick said. ``We'll just practice in whatever comes. I'm sure sooner or later we'll get something similar.''

For the second straight year, though, the region has endured a tepid winter in the month of December, a far cry from some of the more memorable games played in the snow at Gillette Stadium.

And that might be just fine with the Dolphins (7-8). But some members of the Patriots (11-4) are welcoming this long overdue cold front.

``It doesn't bother us,'' linebacker Jerod Mayo said. ``You don't see a lot of us out there in sleeves. When you see other teams coming from other places, they're kind of sleeved up a little bit.''

Yet whether rain, snow or sunshine, Miami has had its share of difficulties traveling to Foxborough since quarterback Tom Brady took the reigns of New England's offense in 2001.

The Patriots are 9-2 at home against the Dolphins since then, and the two losses didn't occur on Brady's watch, either. Brady was already sidelined for the season when New England and backup quarterback Matt Cassel lost to Miami in September 2008, and the three-time Super Bowl MVP played just one quarter before resting for the playoffs in a 28-26 setback on New Year's Day in 2005.

It only gets worse for the Dolphins in the winter, too. Miami is 1-6 in Foxborough in either December or January over the past 11 seasons.

Call it a home-field advantage.

``I wouldn't say that it's advantageous, but I definitely feel like I can play in the snow,'' said rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. ``I like playing in the snow, to be honest with you. The cold weather doesn't affect me at all.''

The Patriots defense is well aware that the unpredictable climate could play a pivotal role in ball security. Members of the secondary are on high alert for turnovers.

Considering New England is second in the league with 39 takeaways, though, that's nothing new.

``I think you've got to have a heightened awareness when you get in these games because no matter how mentally strong guys are, it does change things - your hands get cold and different things like that,'' safety Devin McCourty said. ``Defensively, we definitely try to have more of an awareness to try to attack the ball.''

Just because the Dolphins typically play half of their games under the warm southern sun doesn't mean they're going to freeze at the first sight of snow.

In fact, another warm-weather team - the San Francisco 49ers - traveled to New England on a cold, rainy night two weeks ago and overpowered the Patriots, handing them their lone loss over their past nine games.

``They're a professional football team, they'll be ready to go,'' McCourty said. ``I don't think it's nothing new for them They've done it before, they did it last year, so I'm sure they'll be ready to go.''

And after already playing a pair of December games in Florida, the Patriots are embracing whatever weather rolls their way.

``We've had a very fortunate December around here. It's been good,'' Mayo said. ``Our other games we had were in Miami and in Jacksonville. The weather won't be a problem at all. We enjoy the rain.''

Mayo then shifted his focus to the true opponent.

``We're not playing the weather,'' he added, ``we're playing the Dolphins.''

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Ravens at Seahawks Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens at Seahawks Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens have four wins already this season, but none stand out as a signature victory.

The Ravens blew the doors of future 0-16 Miami Dolphins, then got past Arizona, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by six, three and six points, respectively. The combined record for those three? 4-13-1.

Now, two of those games weren't really as close as the final score made it look. But for a team with designs on contending in the AFC, it's a little concerning that Baltimore's point-differential would be negative-15 if you take out the 59-0 win in Miami that, frankly, shouldn't count.

All that came against a pretty light schedule. The Ravens have only face two non-terrible teams, but they lost to both. Now? Their schedule takes another step up in difficulty, and the first stage comes in Seattle.

The Ravens are traveling across the country to face the 5-1 Seahawks, who are flying high thanks to their quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson would be something close to the consensus MVP if the season ended today, thanks to his 1,704 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The Seahawks own one of the most fearsome home field advantages in football, making this one of the toughest tests of the Ravens' season. 

This battle looks especially important, considering the gauntlet awaiting Baltimore after their Week 8 bye. Five of their next six games beginning in Week 9 are vs. New England, vs. Houston, at Los Angeles (Rams), vs. San Francisco, and at Buffalo. Those teams are a ridiculous 22-6 this season, so the Ravens need to stock up on as many wins as possible during the rest of their schedule.

They'll look to enter their bye with some momentum behind an MVP candidate of their own, albeit not one quite on Wilson's level just yet, in Lamar Jackson.

Jackson continued his own stellar start to the season in Week 6, becoming the first quarterback to ever pass for 200 yards and rush for 150 in a regular season game. He also became the first player in NFL history to earn both the FedEx Air Player of the Week and Ground Player of the Week in the same season.

His dual-threat dominance has keyed a resurgent Ravens offense, forced to carry a surprisingly-struggling defense. The Ravens are hoping their in-season acquisition of cornerback Marcus Peters will provide a jolt to their injured secondary.

Speaking of the secondary, safety Earl Thomas is making his long-anticipated return to Seattle on Sunday, a reunion you don't want to miss.

This is one of the biggest games on the slate in the NFL this weekend, and it's one of the biggest swing games for the Ravens' season. Two franchises defined by their defenses will be carried by their high-octane offenses in what should be a terrific atmosphere.

Here's everything you need to know about the game. 

RAVENS AT SEAHAWKS WEEK 7:

Who: Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

What: Week 7 of the regular season

When: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, 4:25 p.m. ET

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: FOX Sports, FuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090, 98Rock and 101.5 FM

Weather: High of 53 degrees, 5-10 mph winds, strong chance of rain (80 percent)

RAVENS 2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/8 at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (W, 59-10)

Week 2: Sun., 9/15 vs. Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 3: Sun., 9/22 at Chiefs. 1:00 p.m. (L, 33-28)

Week 4: Sun., 9/29 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m. (L, 40-25)

Week 5: Sun., 10/6 at Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (W (OT), 26-23)

Week 6: Sun., 10/13 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 7: Sun., 10/20 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: BYE week

Week 9: Sun., 11/3 vs. Patriots, 8:20 p.m.

Week 10:  Sun., 11/10 at Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 11: Sun., 11/17 vs. Texans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Mon., 11/25 at Rams, 8:15 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/1 vs. 49ers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/8 at Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Thu., 12/12 vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m.

Week 16: Sun., 12/22 at Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sun., 12/29 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

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Ravens look for more AFC North separation, 5-2 record headed into bye week

Ravens look for more AFC North separation, 5-2 record headed into bye week

The Ravens have their toughest individual test of the season on Sunday.

Against MVP favorite Russell Wilson, the Ravens will need their best performance of the year. And if they’re able to get that, they’d be three games over .500 headed into their bye week with the Patriots looming. 

The rest of the division aside, the opportunity is there for the Ravens to pull ahead in the NFC North and the potential playoff race.

“It won’t make or break us, but it will go a long way in setting us up for where we’re headed down the road and what kind of season we’re going to have,” head coach John Harbaugh said. 

The Ravens currently have a two-game lead in the division with the Browns and Steelers on a bye week. With a win, their lead would move to two and a half games ahead of their bye next week. 

After that, the Patriots come to Baltimore for Sunday Night Football.

First, however, the Ravens are focused on the Seahawks, no matter how boring that may sound.

“I’m going to give you the cliché, but it’s the truth,” Harbaugh said bluntly. “We just have to focus on Seattle. So, how the schedule fell or how we fit...It’s better to be 4-2 than 3-3 or 2-4, but not as good as 6-0 or 5-1. That’s my thought on it. And 5-2 would be a lot better than 4-3.”

In order to get to 5-2, the Ravens will need to go through Wilson and his excellent season thus far. He hasn’t thrown an interception, has 17 total touchdowns and is on pace for nearly 5,000 yards from scrimmage. 

“He’s playing at an MVP level, and I agree with that,” defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “It’s sort of like playing against Steph Curry in basketball, if you will. You can pick him up from half court, and he’s going to try to drive by you when you’re saying ‘keep him in the pocket,’ or you can slack off, and he’s going to pull up and hit a three.”

Baltimore will get new addition Marcus Peters into the fold to help with a growingly injured secondary. He’s already played Seattle this season, so the Ravens are hoping he’ll be able to draw on that knowledge to face Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense.

But perhaps the biggest story of the secondary is the return of Earl Thomas to the Seattle. 

The last time he was in a Seahawks uniform, he was carted off with a broken leg and flipped off his own sideline. He’ll return to his former team of nine years on Sunday.

“Hopefully they (the fans) respect what I've done, and I'll get a couple cheers, not too many boos,” Thomas said. “And whatever happens, happens, but hopefully it's love."

Aside from all of that, the Ravens say they’re not focused on 5-2 or what could come with a win over one of the NFL’s best teams and quarterbacks.

“We need to be 1-0 this week,” Harbaugh said. “We need to play our best football of the year in Seattle to win the game, and that’s what we’re planning on doing. And that’s what we’re going to work for.”

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