Patriots Return Coverage

With Vegas having a 9.5 point spread in the Patriots favor and nearly all the local and national analysts picking the Patriots boy, is it starting to feel like a trap game or what? The Ravens, though beaten and battered, show up with high emotions every Sunday and the Patriots never get an easy win when facing off with the Ravens. A majority of Patriots-Ravens games are hard fought, one possession, boxing match type games that come down to the 4th quarter.

A small issue that could use resolving was the undisciplined and somewhat embarrassing play of the Patriots special teams primarily on return coverage. I thought I was watching a high school game on Sunday watching them consistently fall out of their lanes leading to huge returns. At the end of the regular season the Patriots ranking on kick return coverage was third allowing on average 20.5 yards per return, but last game let Danieal Manning average 54 yards on four kick returns. If you look at the final score it’s a blowout more or less, but for a lot of that game good field position had kept the Texans in the fight and with a team that has a half of a sack between the legs that could be fatal.

Next up Jacoby Jones and the Baltimore Ravens come into Gillette with one thing on their mind and that is to pull the upset. Jacoby Jones is amongst the best kick returners averaging 30.7 yards per return and the Ravens top out the remaining playoff teams in this category ranking number one. New England on the flip side has virtually no threat of a big play on special teams and I think that these statistics mean as little to Belichick as imaginable; as little as how the media perceives him. Belichick in his Monday morning conference call was uneasy about the game they had played, but didn’t seem too scared for this upcoming Sunday.

If Belichick can do one thing that is to make adjustments and the Patriots (as previously stated) have been at the top of the league in kick coverage the whole year so I assume this will not be a factor. The Ravens riding the emotional high of their leader Ray Lewis get amped up every time they see the Patriots and this one especially seeing as how it could possibly be Lewis' last game in the NFL. Either way we are going up against a defense that is smart enough to deal with our “bitchassness” and this one could be a tougher one than people want to think.