Free NFL Picks Baltimore at New England 10-17-2010

October 13, 2010


Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots


Line: New England -1 1/2


Both teams come into the game with only one splotch on their perfect records. The Patriots suffered their only loss to the Jets, by 14 points. The Ravens dropped one against the Bengals. The game is in New England and the Pats are coming off a bye week. Even so, the Ravens are ferocious on both sides of the ball. This is by far the most enticing game of the week.

Keys to the Game:

  • Bill Belichick would rather have Deion Branch than Randy Moss. At first, it seemed as though the Patriots might just want to gain some sort of compensation for Moss before his contract expired and they wound up with nothing. They traded him for a draft pick and seemingly bettered themselves going forward. In order to fill the void, they went out and traded for ex-Patriot Deion Branch. They gave up a draft pick in the trade. Although, they acquired a higher pick in the Moss trade than they gave for Branch, it seems as though they lost in the transactions. Randy Moss is a top flight receiver in the NFL. Deion Branch is not. He already has history with Brady, so getting comfortable won’t take very long, but Moss is not a replaceable asset. Tom Brady is going to struggle for a while. He no longer has a go to receiver. The Patriots no longer have a superstar. They have a bunch of guys who run good routes and a quarterback who excels at finding the open man. It is worth having Randy Moss on your team even if you use him to just draw the double team. Wes Welker made a living off taking advantage of the defensive back’s disregard for the role players on the Patriots. Now that Wes Welker is the number one threat on their offense, expect coverages to change. Randy Moss did more than catch passes for the Patriots, he changed the way defensive coordinators approached the entire team.
  • Ray Rice is back. He finally had the game he was looking for, allotting 133 yards on the ground against Denver last week. The Patriots are respectable against the run, but they aren’t dominant. This Patriot team looks a lot like the Patriots of old. It is hard to find anyone besides Brady who you could say is a sure fire Pro Bowler. Their defense is mainly players who rally around each other, but do not get the media recognition of a team like the Jets. Their sole purpose of playing football is to win as a team. Ray Rice is going to test them early. Pittsburgh and the Jets both completely shut down Rice this year. Luckily for him, the Patriots don’t have the run defense either one of those teams do. His receivers are performing at a high level and the offensive line is gaining continuity. Ray Rice should have a big day.
  • John Harbaugh has special teams roots. Why is that relevant? The Patriots destroyed the Dolphins on special teams. The Ravens need to make sure there are no lapses in concentration on special teams. Nothing can change the flow of the game like a blocked kick or return for a touchdown. It is crucial that the Ravens remained disciplined in every facet of the game. Special teams are not the time to relax. The Patriots showed they have the ability to dominate on special teams and they take pride in that. You can be sure Harbaugh will stress special teams all week long. Nobody knows its importance more than he does.
  • Joe Flacco can’t afford to throw more picks than touchdowns. That isn’t the role he plays on the team. His 6 picks and five touchdowns are uncharacteristic. While the Ravens don’t need him to put up huge numbers, they do need him to limit turnovers. The Ravens are a team who win by limiting mental errors and playing disciplined football. Turnovers will kill a team that is constantly in a battle for ball control and field position. Flacco has a slew of targets to throw to. Anquan Boldin, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ray Rice create one of the best overall range of options a quarterback has in the NFL. Every one of the targets is sure handed, including Ray Rice. It will be up to Flacco to limit his turnovers, because the Patriots will capitolize if he gets careless.

Wrap Up:

The Patriots are a fantastic football team. The Ravens are outstanding. They have two completely different styles, but there is one common factor that runs through both locker rooms. Winning is everything. This is going to be a great game. A point and a half spread basically means the game is a pick’em. The Ravens are always involved in close games, as that is how their team is designed to operate. The Patriots have not had a score decided by less than 14 points all year. I think the Ravens win this one outright. If they still had moss, I might swing the other way. Belichick let his pride get in the way on this one. Randy Moss had the support of his team. We will see what effect this has on the locker room.

Free NFL Pick: Baltimore +1 1/2

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