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Sun., Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 AM to 10:59 PM EDT
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News Blitz 12/20: Patriots and Ravens games have become similar to that of a Divisional rivalry
Ryan Mink, who works for the Baltimore Ravens' team website, posted an article yesterday about how the Patriots have almost become a fifth divisional rival for the Ravens. Sunday's game will be the fourth time Baltimore and New England have faced off over the past three years, including two straight AFC Championship matchups. Four of the last six games between the two teams have been decided by less than a touchdown and according to Coach John Harbaugh, that's what makes it a rivalry.
"To me, rivalries are defined by how important the games are and what is at stake and how good the games are. They have always been big games, and fortunately, we have both been in the hunt all those years," said Harbaugh.
There's certainly no love lost between these two teams. Comcast Sports Net's Tom Curran quoted Patriots DB Devin McCourty saying that he would love to end the Ravens season this week. In the interview McCourty admited that he doesn't like the Ravens and that a lot of teammates share the same feelings.
Another aspect to the Patriots-Ravens rivalry is the sibling rivalry between the two Jones brothers.
"I'm 2-0 against Chandler, we're going to try and make it 3-0," said Arthur Jones to Baltimore reporters.
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun written by Aaron Wilson, Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones has yet to hear from his younger brother, Chandler, this week. In an locker room interview this morning, Chandler admitted that he hasn't had the chance talk to his brother yet. Interestingly, Wilson's article mentions that Arthur told reporters that the two brothers have talked every single week...except this week.
Like usual, this week's Ravens-Patriots game is garnering a lot of attention, however, many experts are picking against the Patriots. In ESPN.com's weekly picks, all 12 of the 13 experts picked the Ravens to win this Sunday. The only one who didn't pick the Ravens was Tom Jackson, but he has yet to make a pick this week. Similarly, in USA Today's week 16 predictions, New England received only one of seven votes this week. The lone writer that picked the Patriots was Simon Samano. Elliot Harrison of NFL.com and Don Banks of Sports Illustrated also picked the Ravens to continue their win streak. Clearly, not much love accross the country for Brady and the Patriots this week.
In a slightly more Patriots-friendly article, Mike Dussault of the Bleacher Report wrote that the Patriots will be tough to beat in the playoffs. According to Dussault, although the team has lost a number of key players this year, the team has continued to fight and win games. Dussault believes that with Brady under center and group of players that refuse to quit around him, New England will be very dangerous in the post-season. He also mentions that 6 of the last 10 Super Bowls winners have had a margin of victory of 8-points or less and the Patriots fall in that category this year with a 4.1 average margin of victory.
"They had to overcome one of their best players being charged with murder. And a rash of injuries cost them some of their biggest playmakers for the season," explained Hughes. "Even through that adversity, Belichick has still managed to keep his team focused and turn in another 10-win season."
In an interesting article on Grantland.com, Bill Barnwell explores some of the best free agent bargains from the 2013 off-season. In his "NFL All-Bargain Team" Julian Edelman was listed as one of the receivers. Edelman's $1 million contract proved to be a steal for the Patriots as he's had easily his best season as a pro. Edelman is on pace for 100 catches and nearly 1,000 yards.
"Edelman was an afterthought in the New England offense a year ago; now, as the top receiver Tom Brady has left, Edelman is a star," writes Barnwell.
Former Patriots running back, Danny Woodhead also made the list. Woodhead signed a 2-year $3.5 million contract with the San Diego Chargers this past off-season and he has become one of the team's top weapons. With 8 total touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, Barnwell explains how Woodhead is a crucial part of the Chargers offense.