New England Patriots: What to root for in Week 15
2. Baltimore is to New England what New England is to Pittsburgh.
Judging by the all-time series between Baltimore and New England, there’s really not much of a rivalry here. The Patriots are a sparkling 10-3 against the Ravens, which some would argue is an even more impressive mark than Brady’s 8-2 all-time record against the Steelers’ Roethlisberger. Either way, it’s apparent Brady and Belichick have historically owned their AFC rivals from the North division.
And yet, the general perception among many Pats fans is that they’d rather face the Steelers any day over the Ravens. Perhaps it’s a combination of the bad blood between Brady and Terrell Suggs, the uproar from John Harbaugh over the whole “eligible receiver” fiasco, and the sting of those three games Baltimore won (2009 Wild Card Game, 2012 AFC Championship Game, and the Torrey Smith/Justin Tucker/Bill Belichick-grabbed-the-referee game).
Whatever the exact reason, there’s a deep, visceral loathing between these franchises, not quite on the same level as Ravens/Steelers, but close. Ask many Baltimore and Pittsburgh fans which team they currently hate the second-most behind one other, and there’s a decent chance they’ll say New England.
This 2018 Ravens team isn’t as formidable as prior squads, but it’s still dangerous. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has been electrifying since taking over for an injured Joe Flacco. The Ravens’ strength has always been their intimidating defense, and this year is no exception – currently the unit ranks No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in yards allowed atop the NFL. They’re no slouches.
Out of all the AFC teams realistically vying for the sixth and final playoff spot, a list that also includes the Dolphins, Colts, Titans, and Broncos, the Ravens are the last team the Patriots should want to see qualify. Baltimore could even make it in as the No. 4 seed – they’re just a half-game behind the Steelers in the AFC North.
Any way you slice it, the AFC playoff picture looks a lot safer for the Pats without the Ravens. It’s unlikely Tampa Bay goes on the road and knocks off the Ravens on Sunday, but it sure would be nice all the same.