For all the discussion last week that the Eagles provided the rest of the NFL with a blueprint for beating the Patriots, the bottom line is that Philadelphia still didn’t win, which makes the schematic for instilling defeat a bit incomplete, no?
Here’s the thing about blueprints: They’re useless unless you’ve got the proper tools.
Enter Kyle Boller.
The Ravens figured to have a more powerful offense than in the past this season, which is to say any offense at all. While Willis McGahee has been solid for Baltimore, eighth in the league in rushing yards, it is the man behind center that is still in flux. Tonight it will be Boller continuing to fill in for the injured 73-year-old starter Steve McNair, and he is no A.J. Feely. Whatever that means to you.
In the end, this is picking Tom Brady over Kyle Boller. Randy Moss over Derrick Mason. Bill Belichick over Brian Billick, who was the OC for the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, a team with Moss that holds the record for most points scored in a season.
For one more month.
Who they're picking
How folks from around the country see tonight's Patriots-Ravens game:
Jim McCabe, Boston Globe: Patriots (giving the 20 points). “Ray Lewis takes exception to criticism that the Ravens aren't team-oriented? How dare those people. And just as soon as he finishes his 25-minute, X-rated solo dance that gets national television exposure at the start of every game, he's going to try to do something about it, too.”
Jim McBride, Boston Globe: Patriots 31, Ravens 13. “Baltimore would like nothing more than to run the ball, run down the clock, and keep Tom Brady off the field. The problem with that strategy is that the Ravens almost always fall behind early and are forced to abandon the ground attack.”
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 31, Ravens 16. “All ESPN can ask for, really, is a game. The Pats gave America a nailbiter last week, and this game won't be that good. But at least it won't be over by halftime. Baltimore's defense is too proud to allow a rout at home.”
Mike Tanier, Football Outsiders: Patriots. “The Ravens are 20-point dogs, despite the fact that the Patriots appear mortal, the Ravens are at home, and the Ravens defense is still good enough to take some edge off the Patriots offense. The Patriots will win, but we don't want any parts of a 20-point spread.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Patriots 30, Ravens 24. “The Ravens are a proud group. They're not about to let the Patriots come in and put a number on that defense. The only problem is that defense hasn't played that well lately. But on national television, they do enough to at least slow down the Patriots some.”
Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Patriots 45, Ravens 13. “I could give you a long-winded reason why the Patriots' defense is much better with Adalius Thomas and the Ravens' defense hasn't been what we're used to seeing, but it's simple: Tom Brady over Kyle Boller.”
Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today. Patriots 34, Ravens 17. “The Patriots are so mad for not scoring 31 points, their lowest single-game output of the season, against the Eagles, they're going to make up for it by trying to score 60-plus against the Ravens. Won't happen, but the Patriots will win trying.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 31, Ravens 16. “NE point spreads have begun to look like typographical errors. Reeling Ravens have lost five in a row and struggle to score, and yet I'm hunching they find a way, at home on a Monday night, to lose by less than 21. Pats may be in an emotional lull, between last week's near-loss and Steelers visiting a week hence.”
Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun. Patriots, 34, Ravens 10. “The Ravens' defense just doesn't have the depth to match up against a Patriots passing attack that has Brady, Moss, Welker, Donte Stallworth, Benjamin Watson ... and so on. This might be the Ravens' Super Bowl, but the teams are just in two different leagues right now.”
ESPN.com: Eric Allen picks the Ravens, everyone else, Patriots.
Yahoo! sports: Patriots across the board.
Our pick: Patriots 34, Ravens 19