How to win:
1) Control Ngata! This guy is a beast, he can disrupt both the running and passing games, and he plays on the inside. Mankins may be out, which would make this job even harder. Controlling Ngata will give Brady the time he needs, and will give Ridley the space he needs.
2) Balance is everything. This Raven D may be getting a little old, but they are extremely smart and opportunistic. Don't get too one-dimensional, or you'll just be begging Reed to pick one (or two) off. Their pass rush doesn't need the help of abandoning the run either.
3) Don't let Flacco get comfortable. I'm in the minority, I think Flacco is a good QB, but he can be incredibly inconsistent. Commit to getting to him early, make him uncomfortable. And for the love of God, when he breaks contain, don't turn a 5 yard pass into a 26 yard pass, into a 41 yard play with a penalty, as happened with Heap last week.
How they would lose:
1) Lose the turnover battle. If the Pats have an early turnover and go down by a TD quickly...I could see one TO turning into two very quickly, and then turn around and see four giveaways. Do NOT fall into that quicksand. Ball security will be extremely important today, and may be the deciding factor.
2) Flacco goes wacco! People remember Rice ripping 80 yards up the gut, but I don't fear him today. Mayo/Spikes/Hightower/Wilfork ought to be able to contain him. If you let Flacco get going, between Smith and Boldin, it could remind us all of the pain we suffered through at times with this secondary last year. Chandler Jones, I hope you were inspired by your brother's performance last night, we need you, and the rest of the pass rush, to have a very good game.
3) Undisciplined football. They're going into a hostile environment in Primetime, against a team with a few scores to settle; last year's playoff loss, and notching their first regular season win against Brady. Turnovers and penalties could come fast and furious if they aren't careful. Coaching was a downer last week at times, I don't expect them to make that same mistake two weeks in a row, but stranger things have happened. All players need to stay focused all game, regardless of the environment.
24-17, Pats win in a very physical, though clean game. Brady has a pedestrian 250 yards and a TD, Ridley toughs out 100-115 yards on 25 carries, punching 2 into the endzone, and impresses on short yardage all day.