New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, 48.5)
The Baltimore Ravens have some bad memories of the last time they faced the New England Patriots - a last-second loss in the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens will get home field advantage in Sunday night’s rematch and have the more confident kicker this time around. The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski missed badly on a 42-yarder in the final seconds last weekend, dooming the team to a rare home loss. Billy Cundiff, who missed a last-second 32-yard attempt in the title game last January, has been replaced by rookie Justin Tucker, who is 6-for-6 so far. Both teams looked strong in Week 1 but will be trying to avoid dipping below .500 after disappointing showings in Week 2.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE: Ravens -2.5, O/U 48.5. Most sportsbooks opened the Ravens as -3 favorites, but that line has since been bet down to -1.5.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high-50s and clear skies at M&T Bank Stadium. Wind won’t be a factor.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (1-1): The record-setting offense from past years did not show up against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, with Tom Brady not throwing a touchdown pass until late in the fourth quarter. That unit could be in trouble again on Sunday without tight end Aaron Hernandez, who suffered an ankle sprain against the Cardinals and will miss 4-to-6 weeks. New England signed free agent Kellen Winslow and brought back wide receiver Deion Branch during the week. Wes Welker, who led the NFL in receptions last season and has been one of the most prolific receivers in the game since joining the Patriots, was replaced in the starting lineup by Julian Edelman last week as new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels continues to tinker with the offense. The bright spot has been a much-improved defense, especially rookie DE Chandler Jones.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (1-1): Baltimore will catch a break without Hernandez on the field but will still have to account for Rob Gronkowski. The Ravens had trouble containing Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek in a 24-23 loss last Sunday. Baltimore’s defense is under the direction of new coordinator Dean Pees, who spent the previous few seasons with the Patriots, and is ranked just 27th through the first two weeks. The offense looked strong enough to overcome those deficiencies in the Week 1 thrashing of Cincinnati, but quarterback Joe Flacco was just 22 of 42 against the Eagles and the Ravens converted only 4 of 14 third downs. Flacco actually outperformed Tom Brady in last January’s meeting but was let down when his sure touchdown pass was knocked out of the hands of Lee Evans right before Cundiff’s missed kick.
* Underdog is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Over is 6-0 in Ravens’ last six September games.
* Ravens are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Patriots’ last five road games.
1. Baltimore S Bernard Pollard, who knocked out Brady for the 2008 eason with a low hit in the opening weekend and was responsible for Gronkowski’s ankle injury in last season’s meeting, is questionable for Sunday with a rib contusion.
2. Ravens receiver Torrey Smith's younger brother was killed in a motorcycle crash late Saturday night. After leaving the team's hotel early Sunday morning to mourn with his family, Smith returned to the team and all indications point towards him suiting up.
3. New England is 7-1 against Baltimore, including the playoffs.