John Powers of The Boston Globe explains the Ravens are being rewarded for their patience with quarterback Kyle Boller. The Ravens selected Boller in 2003, out of California, with a first-round pick they obtained from the Patriots. While he was slow to start, the Ravens stuck by him. That strategy appears to have worked, as Boller comes to New England having won three in a row. "He'll be the guy in Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon, especially with running back Jamal Lewis out with a sprained ankle," writes Powers.
As he previews this weekend's games, Jim McCabe of the Globe muses over the NFL's announcement of the implementation of on-field seats to be experimented with this month.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald points to defensive lineman Ty Warren as a big reason the Pats have overcome a number of untimely injuries to win their last three games. "Warren has been credited with 15 tackles over that time, and Monday night in Kansas City he had the best game of his career: Two sacks, one forced fumble, one pass defended and seven unassisted tackles," writes Felger.
In his notebook, Felger spotlights punter Josh Miller, whose 45.3 yards-per-punt average is nearly an 8-yard improvement over last year's punter, Ken Walter's.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal previews Sunday's game, reminding us that the Ravens are a tricky bunch. Many like to point to their anemic offense and dismiss their gravity. But, as Curran points out, this is a 7-3 team with a defense that has proven it can win games by itself. "However one slices it, Baltimore is going to be a difficult opponent Sunday. But without lead running back Jamal Lewis, and a cautious offense, they are the polar opposite of the team New England faced earlier this week, the Kansas City Chiefs," writes Curran.
In his notebook, Curran lauds the play of Miller, who he considers the best off-season acquisition not named Corey. Curran also notes the presence of the ever-dangerous Deion Sanders, who has proven he can still be "Prime Time" in the Ravens secondary.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call reviews the prospects of facing off with future Hall-of-Famer Sanders on Sunday afternoon. "Sanders is nursing a toe injury that has forced him to miss the last two games," writes Parente. "He is currently listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision for the 4:15 p.m. tilt, but the possibility of facing one of the all-time great cornerbacks has some of the Patriots' wide receivers buzzing this week."
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant identifies a serious threat in Ravens safety Ed Reed. While Ray Lewis attracts much of the attention as the Ravens middle linebacker, Greenberg asserts it may be Reed who is Baltimore's most dangerous defender. "Reed, the Ravens' strong safety, is probably Tom Brady's biggest worry when the Ravens (7-3) play the Patriots (9-1) Sunday at Gillette Stadium," writes Greenberg. "Although the third-year pro from the University of Miami is a run-stopper, his forte is game-turning interceptions."
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News takes stock of Brady's season up to this point. Reiss reports that Brady set a number of personal goals for himself heading into the season, and proves, statistically, that he is doing a good job meeting those goals. "He wanted to cut down on his fumbles," writes Reiss. "Other areas of focus were accuracy, footwork, escaping sacks, making better decisions and throwing less interceptions."
The Portland Press Herald runs an AP article about receiver Deion Branch, who returned to the lineup in a big way, with 105 yards and a touchdown Monday night in Kansas City.
Ian Clark of The Union Leader looks at the defensive line, pointing out that if the three young starters stay together, the Patriots could have the league's most fearsome front for years to come. Richard Seymour, the "old" man of the group is 25. Warren and Vince Wilfork are relative babies, at 23 each. "While much of what a good defensive line does might go unnoticed from a statistical standpoint, the effect it can have on the overall defense is drastic," writes Clark. "Whether it's getting good push up front to collapse the pocket and make a quarterback throw early or not allowing opposing offensive lineman to create running lanes, much of the D line's work is thankless."