The Undefeated Patriots are in Trouble Against the Ravens? Are You Taking Crazy Pills?
Every year the same thing happens. The Patriots conduct themselves like a dynastic team should; they either come out of the gate on fire–laying waste to their opponents and snatching their souls like Shang Tsung–or they stumble a bit before course-correcting and… snatching the souls of their opponents like Shang Tsung. When the Patriots stumble, you can at least understand why people would doubt them. It is inconceivable a team can be this good for so long, so maybe this is the year. They are wrong… always wrong, but at least the sentiment comes from a place of rationale. However, when the Patriots are cruising along like the Juggernaut, it makes no sense that people doubt them. But they do. Because people are dumb. Well, to read and listen to the vast majority of NFL talking heads this week, is a case study in what happens when people collectively take crazy pills.
The Patriots are 8-0. They have the best point differential since the 2007 Patriots and are the best defense of all-time through the first eight weeks of the season (no, the Buffalo All-Americans do not count; they played in a league comprised of mostly Buffalo-centric semi-pro teams). Simply put, nobody alive has seen a defense play this well in an eight-week span, ever. Yet lo and behold, the crazy pills are out in full force.
All different types of people are taking a look at the Patriots schedule and saying it nullifies what they have done. That, “of course, the Patriots are 8-0; look at their competition!” Conveniently ignoring just how dominant the Patriots have been because it does not fit the narrative–the same narrative that if people followed would have them stop doubting the Patriots to win every season. The same narrative that is allowing people to pick the Baltimore Ravens to upset the Patriots because the Ravens have Lamar Jackson.
These are the same Ravens mind you that lost to the Cleveland Browns. Lost to the Chiefs. Barely beat the Cardinals. Needed overtime to beat the Steelers. And eeked out a seven-point victory over the winless Bengals. If the Patriots are getting doubted because they have curb-stomped their (admittedly weak) competition, why is everyone’s confidence up on the Ravens when they have lost or needed last-minute plays to dispatch of those same opponents?
The Ravens have one of the most unique quarterbacks in the league in Lamar Jackson, a seam-stretching tight end, and the best kicker in NFL history (non-Adam Vinatieri version). But their quarterback cannot throw a pass outside the hashes and for all the talk of the Ravens superb offense propelled by their running game, everybody is forgetting about the other two facets of the game: defense and special teams.
Don’t Take Crazy Pills, Do Know Where the Patriots at Ravens Week 9 Game Will be Decided
This Ravens squad was in a nail-biter against the Bengals in large part because they gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff. John Harbaugh–an awesome coach who specializes in special teams–immediately turned around and dealt with the special teams unit by… releasing Justin Bethel, the best special teams player in the NFL this side of Matthew Slater and just ahead of Nate Ebner. The Ravens are there for the taking on special teams and nobody is talking about this because–again–everyone is taking crazy pills.
But it does not stop there. The Patriots are only ranked 15th in the NFL in total offense. Not where you would expect the Patriots to be at this point of the season. The main issue has been a revolving door on the offensive line and a domino effect from Marshall Newhouse who has been passable–but that’s about it–filling in for Isaiah Wynn at left tackle. With Wynn out, Newhouse has been trying to hold fort at left tackle and it appears like the rest of the Patriots offensive line is trying to do a little more than their job on each play while compensating.
And yet… here we are heading into Week 9 and the Patriots are 8-0. The offense–the much-derided offense–has yet to hit its stride and people are reacting as if the obvious direction is for the offense to trend downward. Why? Why in the name of everything Belichick would you take a look at the Patriots history, at Tom Brady’s history, and think they are going to get worse… NOT better? It MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL!!! Moreover, people are completely overlooking one itty bitty fact; the Ravens are not a good defensive ballclub!
The Ravens defense is 17th in yards per game, 17th in points per game and 13th worst in 3rd down percentage. This is the defense that is supposed to scare the Patriots and stop them from going 9-0? You people are out of your mind taking crazy pills. *Best Game Show Host Voice* “But wait, there’s more!” All of these numbers are with the Baltimore Ravens being the best time of possession team in the NFL! That’s right. Their defense is that bad while barely having to take the field. Everybody is worried about the Ravens offense against the Patriots defense, but that is not where this game is going to be won (although it will be fun to watch). No. The game is going to be won on special teams and the Patriots offense against a porous Ravens defense.
This is not (ALLEGED!) White Suit Murderer/deer antler spray’s defense. Heck, this is not even Terrell Suggs’ defense. This is a blah defense. With a special teams unit that is simply not that good. They are 20th in the league in net punt average with only 10 of those downed inside the 20, and are one of only four teams in the league to allow a kickoff return for a touchdown. For everyone worried about the showdown between the Ravens O and Patriots D–like most games and plays in the NFL–you are looking in the wrong spots. This game is going to come down to the Patriots O against the Ravens D, and the special teams. Again, everyone is looking at this game backwards and thinking the Ravens are going to upset the Patriots. There is only one logical explanation; you are all TAKING CRAZY PILLS!