Patriots Relish Knock Out Shot On Ravens
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said this week's game against the Ravens isn't a rematch of the AFC championship and that the past is in the past.
Well it sure sounds like his players have some lingering hostility.
The Ravens knocked the Patriots out last year with a convincing 28-13 win in Foxborough.
"T]here would be no better feeling than us beating them Sunday and . . . [we eliminate their season right there," defensive back Devin McCourty told Tom Curran of CSN New England. "For me and for a lot of my teammates there'd be no better feeling."
Oh really? What McCourty fails to realize is that even if the Patriots did win on Sunday, that wouldn't necessarily mean the Ravens are out of the playoffs. There are a lot of other teams in the mix too.
But these are the most incendiary comments of the week from the two teams.
McCourty admitted that he hates the Ravens a "little bit," and that his feelings for them are "close" to those that he has for the AFC East rival New York Jets. The Ravens did say this week that the Patriots feel like another divisional foe.
Speaking of trash talk failures, a Patriots fan tweeted at the Ravens yesterday with this message and picture.
"You do realize Pitta caught that, then scored a TD on the next play, right?"
Big-bodied WR Coming To Baltimore?
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay released his first mock draft of the 2014 class and he's projecting something I'm pretty sure 95 percent of Ravens fans have long pined for.
McShay has the Ravens taking a big-bodied wide receiver in the first round: Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore has 65 catches for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns this season catching balls from Johnny Manziel.
"Baltimore is a team that is always looking to take the best available player, but I think that more than anything this team needs to upgrade QB Joe Flacco's weapons this offseason, and Evans would do exactly that. If you watch Alshon Jeffery play for the Bears this season, you'll get an idea of what makes Evans so intriguing. Jeffery isn't a great route runner, doesn't have great acceleration and is a long strider, but none of that matters because he's able to separate when the ball is in the air. He looks like he's covered right up until the moment he makes the catch.
"That's something you can pull off only when you're built like Jeffery and Evans, which is why Evans is able to overcome some of the same quickness limitations as Jeffery. A former basketball player who has improved throughout his two seasons at Texas A&M, Evans has strong hands and is tough to beat in jump-ball situations."
Here's the highlight tape from his game against Alabama this year when Evans had seven catches for 279 yards and a touchdown. Think Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome (an Alabama guy) noticed that game?
Will Jacoby Walk?
The Ravens could need to draft a big-time wide receiver this offseason if another prediction is true.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley said in a fan chat that the electrifying Jacoby Jones, who is in a contract year, will not be brought back next season.
Bryan (Los Angeles): Do you think with the emergence of Marlon Brown and the need to sign Pitta, Monroe, Art Jones, and possibly Torrey in the offseason, the ravens will let Jacoby walk? I don't see us getting a hometown discount.
Jamison (ESPN): Whether they can bring back Jones is going to be a big question in the offseason. I believe the Ravens are going to be aggressive in re-signing Pitta and Monroe. Right behind them is getting Smith signed to an extension. I don't see them having any money for Jones, who will command a big contract after the season he's had. That leads us to Jones, whose price tag goes up because he's a dual threat. In a perfect world, they would keep him. I'm not sure if that's practical considering they have a young receiver in Marlon Brown and other options in the return game.
Jones has been a big part of the Ravens' offensive and special teams emergence over their four-game winning streak.
He had a season-high six catches for 80 yards, including a critical 27-yard catch on Baltimore's final drive, in Detroit. A 66-yard touchdown against the Jets broke that game open. On special teams, he could have had a touchdown against Pittsburgh and he brought a kickoff back for a score versus Minnesota.
But if Ravens fans learned anything from this past offseason, it should be that Baltimore can't keep every good player on the roster.
Rice's Turn To Carry Ravens?
Before we keep looking ahead to the offseason, there's a very important game to be played on Sunday.
With the Patriots' run defense ranked second-worst in the league, allowing 132.5 rushing yards per game, Hensley is putting the weight of carrying the Ravens offense on running back 's shoulders.
Rice has "shown some signs of life," Hensley said, as he's notched back-to-back games of more than 50 rushing yards for the first time this year. On Monday night, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
Plus, quarterback Joe Flacco will be playing his first game after his knee injury and with a brace.
Week 16 Picks
The Ravens bandwagon is starting to run out of room.
A whopping 33 of 42 pundits are picking the Ravens to topple the Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
**The Baltimore Sun**: 5 of 7 pick the Ravens
Jeff Zrebiec (Patriots 20, Ravens 19) "The Ravens' late-game magic runs out against a Patriots team that has been finding ways to win all season. In a rivalry that has been defined by big kicks and big misses, New England's Stephen Gostkowski plays the role of hero."
Aaron Wilson (Ravens 23, Patriots 20): "Brady is missing his go-to tight end, and Joe Flacco just got his back from injury, which could make the difference with two big-time conference rivals that always play close, classic games. The way things have gone the past few weeks, it wouldn't be a total shock if Justin Tucker wins it with a 76-yard field goal."
**ProFootballTalk.com**: 2 of 2 pick the Ravens
Michael David Smith (Ravens 14, Patriots 13): "The Patriots have been the better team for most of this season, but the Ravens are playing their best football at the right time, while New England is struggling. I like the Ravens to win a tough, physical, low-scoring game."
Mike Florio (Ravens 22, Patriots 17): "The Ravens have won four in a row. The Patriots have suffered one too many injuries to remain highly competitive. Baltimore moves another big step closer to a sixth straight playoff appearance."
**Sports Illustrated, Don Banks**: (Ravens 24, Patriots 23):
"They're doing it again, those plucky, resilient Ravens. I'm not sure why any of us ever count them out of the playoff picture, because all they do is make us look like lemmings every time we disbelieve. Baltimore is playing its best ball of the season right now, and it's one of the few teams that to a degree seem to have New England's number. This will be the fourth meeting between the Patriots and Ravens since January 2012, with Baltimore winning the last two games and coming a Lee Evans reception away from taking all three."
**CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco**: (Patriots 23, Ravens 17):
"The Ravens impressed with a tough road victory Monday night in Detroit. But this is a short week against a Patriots team coming off a loss. They don't lose consecutive games too often. They won't here either. Tom Brady will do enough to find a way to win."
**The Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer**: (Ravens 24, Patriots 20)
"The Ravens swept the Patriots last season, including their impressive victory in the AFC title game at New England. They still match up well against Tom Brady, and this one's back in friendly Baltimore. The Ravens' defensive backs are outstanding in covering and make quick tackles after the catch, and don't need to contend with Rob Gronkowski, setting them up to keep Brady from overworking the middle of the field. Offensively, the Ravens can't run, but are getting more comfortable just going no-huddle with Joe Flacco, especially with a healthy Dennis Pitta as a security blanket underneath. Look for both teams to go up-tempo, with the Patriots running out of time and falling short of a road comeback."
**NFL.com, Elliott Harrison**: (Ravens 28, Patriots 25)
"This one will include much offense and a lot of field goals. If you watched the Ravens on Thanksgiving or on Monday night, you know how their offense can get bogged down, leaving them to rely on the kicker. As for that kicker, by the way, is anyone better than Justin Tucker? A lot of people got mad at me for picking Tucker over Minnesota's Blair Walsh on this team, but Tucker has been a baller -- that's right, we're calling a placekicker a baller. Get excited. Thing is, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski will be leaned on heavily, too, as frankly, Tom Brady hasn't played well against the Ravens, putting together a career passer rating of 72.1. Baltimore is the only team against which he's thrown more picks than touchdown passes -- playoffs included. We'd have more confidence in the home team if we knew the Ravens could exploit the middle of the Patriots' run defense -- but then, have you seen the Ravens' ground game this season? This one's gonna be close!"
- Can't get enough of Justin Tucker? He was on the Peter Schrager podcast yesterday. [FOX Sports]
- Justin Tucker officially eliminated the Jets from playoff contention with his 61-yard kick. Head Coach Rex Ryan said, "I felt like I got kicked in the head." [NJ.com]
- This season is becoming the year of the kicker, and Tucker versus New England's Stephen Gostkowski (the only kicker with more points than Tucker), is a prime example. [Baltimore Sun]
- Torrey Smith!(/team/roster/torrey-smith/05382870-b235-44db-9b51-3d3ca0df2dd8/ "Torrey Smith") against Patriots cornerback Aquib Talib is a matchup to watch. Talib moves around the field to go against the best receiver regardless of where he's lined up. [Baltimore Sun]
- Dennis Pitta saw a lot of bracket coverage from the Lions, resulting in a quiet day. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said Pitta is an "excellent player." [Baltimore Sun]
- The Jones brothers, Arthur and Chandler, haven’t spoken this week. "I feel kind of offended. I checked the injury reports to make sure he's all right, to make sure he's still breathing," Art said. "It's uncommon. He hasn't called me, he hasn't texted me." [Baltimore Sun]
- The Ravens are riding a wave of momentum towards the playoffs. [NFL.com]
- Rice says his hip is still bothering him. [NFL.com]
- Tight end Dallas Clark (1 year, $1 million) and linebacker Daryl Smith (1 year, $1.1 million) are part of the NFL All-Bargain Team. (Grantland.com)
- Can the Ravens frustrate Tom Brady again? [CSN Baltimore]
- Rice reaches out to a youngster being bullied in Baltimore, connecting with his past and making his dream come true. [USA Characters Unite]