By Jack Sitt
Joe Flacco vs. Patriots secondary
Flacco has had the Patriots number in the past. He has been flinging the ball deep to Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones as of late, and he will try to do that again this Sunday. The Patriots play a lot of cover 2, especially against the Ravens. The Patriots will need the two deep safeties to get to the deep passes fast enough so they will not get burned. They will also need good deep ball coverage from their cornerbacks; the addition of Aqib Talib should help.
Ray Rice against Patriots front 7
If the Patriots play cover 2 that means that Ray Rice will not have to face an 8th man in the box. The Ravens like to run a lot of inside zone and blast plays for Rice in which he gains many 4-5 yard gains. He also occasionally breaks the runs outside for an explosive play. This will be a good matchup because the Patriots have a stingy inside run defense. It is tough to run inside against Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. The Ravens will need Rice to get running room to help move the ball in this game.
X factor: Dennis Pitta
If the Patriots safeties play the deep ball, this will leave throwing room over the middle. Flacco will need to look to the tight end, and Pitta can be a solid intermediate option for him. Look for Flacco, with his big arm, to zip it into Pitta if the Pats defense sleeps on him.