3. Start fast offensively and put up some points
The biggest takeaway from the Patriots’ 33-0 road win over the New York Jets two weeks ago got lost in all the “Sam Darnold sees ghosts” storylines and Boogeymen hype videos.
That takeaway was this: if the Patriots get the ball first and start fast offensively by marching down the field and putting up the game’s initial points, it effectively sucks the air right out of the opposing team’s stadium.
That’s exactly what happened during that Monday night victory. Tom Brady, Sony Michel, and the rest of the New England offense slowly, methodically made their way down the field from their own 22-yard line, chewing up 78 yards and 8:47 of the clock while running 16 plays and eventually coming away with seven points on Michel’s touchdown. The Patriots converted four third downs during the drive, and by the time they were kicking the ball back to the Jets, you could’ve heard a pin drop in MetLife Stadium.
Why? Because every fan there knew that the Patriots were probably going to win the game at that point (maybe not Fireman Ed or some of the other super fans, but you get the idea). A deliberate, ruthless, maniacal opening statement like New England made against New York – especially on the road in a hostile environment on primetime television – was all it took to rob Gotham of their cheering squad.
Once the crowd was taken out of it, the game became so much easier for the visitors… and then the rout was on.
The Patriots should steal that particular page of the playbook from their win over the Jets and try to emulate it exactly against the Ravens. If they get the ball first, drive down the field and punish Baltimore’s suspect pass defense (more on that in a second) by scoring the game’s first touchdown and silencing the stands. If the Ravens get the ball first, forcing a quick three-and-out or getting a turnover would have the exact same effect.
Either way, New England should prioritize starting fast, putting up some early points, and sending a message to Baltimore right from the get-go that this night, too, will belong to the Patriots.