The qualifiers that have dogged the Patriots throughout their 13-3 2011 season are easy to list.
They didn't beat a team that finished the season with a record over .500. Godawful pass defense. A run defense that's inconsistent. Slow starters. And we've visited and revisited those topics.
But there are indictments in the Baltimore Ravens stat pack as well from 2011. And most of them are related to how badly they tend to play away from Maryland.
The Ravens lost at Jacksonville, Tennessee, Seattle and San Diego this season. None of those teams made the playoffs. Baltimore managed just 51 points total in the four games.
And while the losses to the Jaguars and Titans are lessened by the passage of time (they happened in September and October), the loss to San Diego on December 18 is a glaring toe-stub from the tail end of the year.
Baltimore lost that one 34-14 and it wasn't even that competitive as the Chargers got up 31-7 by the end of the third. In that game, the Chargers did things similar to what Houston did last week. Pressured quarterback Joe Flacco (five sacks) and created turnovers (two picks).
Houston just didn't have the quarterback to finish Baltimore off.
There are creditable wins on the Ravens schedule. Two over Pittsburgh, one over the 49ers and two over the Bengals - all playoff teams.
But comparing the Ravens losses and the margins to the teams the Patriots lost to - Pittsburgh, the Giants and Buffalo by a total of 15 points - leaves the impression that the Ravens are extremely capable of flat performances especially away from home.
The key, as mentioned yesterday, is bothering Joe Flacco and making him less than average.
With New England Patriots organized workouts finished until next month, Phil Perry puts together another 53-man roster projection.
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When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.
"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"
Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year.
Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone.
"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."
Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1.
Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass.