After hardly being challenged in the first half of the season, the unbeaten and reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are expected to have their hands full Sunday night when they face Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in a nationally televised showdown of AFC division leaders.
When: Sunday, Nov. 3
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
The Patriots (8-0), off to their best start since winning their first 10 games in 2015, have recorded all but one of their victories by at least two touchdowns. They have trailed in only one game this season—against the Washington Redskins—and for a total of 13 minutes and 51 seconds of a possible 480 minutes.
New England did grind out its most recent triumph, a 27-13 home win over Cleveland at home on Sunday on a rain-soaked field. The Patriots recorded takeaways on three consecutive first quarter plays by the Browns, contributing to a 17-0 lead they never relinquished.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower raced 26 yards with a fumble recovery for a touchdown in that stretch, the fifth defensive touchdown the Patriots have scored to offset the four they have conceded over the first eight games. New England also recorded its NFL-best 19th interception, while upping its takeaway total to a league-high 25.
Tom Brady had his fifth game with two or more touchdowns after throwing for 259 yards and enters this contest 8-3 lifetime vs. Baltimore, including 6-1 in the regular season. Brady will try to integrate Mohamed Sanu into the offense more in his second game with the team. Sanu, acquired from the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick, had two catches for 23 yards in his debut, while being targeted by Brady five times. Sanu is expected to serve as the primary deep threat, while Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett take care of the short and medium-yard game.
Baltimore (5-2) has a two-game lead atop the AFC North, and this contest will serve as a true measuring stick for second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. The 2018 first round pick has been a spectacular dual threat for the Ravens with 2,226 total yards passing and running, with his 576 yards in the latter category good for 10th in the league.
It has also put him on pace to join Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Jackson and Mark Ingram lead a Ravens rushing attack that is first in the NFL at 204.1 yards per game, doing so in distinctly different style, as Jackson puts pressure on the edge while Ingram batters opponents between the tackles.
This game will also put Jackson’s passing acumen to the test given New England’s extraordinary pass defense. Jackson has thrown for 1,650 yards and 11 touchdowns, while completing 63.3 percent of his passes, but the Patriots—who also lead the NFL with 31 sacks in addition to their 19 picks—have held opposing quarterbacks to 148.8 passing yards per game and 3.91 yards per passing play.
The bye week came at an opportune time for Baltimore, who is expected to have starting cornerback Jimmy Smith and rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown available for this game. Smith has been sidelined with a sprained knee suffered just six plays into the season opening win over Miami. Brown, the team’s first round pick who had 21 catches for 326 yards and three TDs in the first five games, has missed the last two with a foot injury. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor is also expected to return after a two-game absence due to an ankle injury.