Does the Ravens' defense own Brady?

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Does the Ravens' defense own Brady?

For all the back and forth on what it will take for the Patriots to beat the Ravens on Sunday, many including myself believe that it will come down to one thing:

Protecting Tom Brady.

If Brady consistently has time to work, the Patriots will win. If he spends more time bumping uglies with T-Sizzle than head butting Gronk in the end zone, it's going to be a long, painful winter.

But even if you don't entirely buy the simplicity of that break down, you have to admit that Brady needs a big game to send the Pats to the Big Game. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Looking back on Brady's career, his team has, for the most part, performed well against the Ravens. He's 4-0 in the regular season against Baltimore (the most wins he has against any team, without a loss). Of course, he's also 0-1 in the playoffs, but all things considered, you can do a lot worse than a 4-1.

But in consistent victory, it's interesting to note that Brady's never had much statistical success against Baltimore. Here's a look at his numbers in five career starts:

November 28, 2004: Pats win, 24-3

15-30 for 172 yards with 0 TD, 0 INT and a QB rating of 67.6

December 3, 2007: Pats win, 27-24

18-38 for 257 yards with 2 TD, 1 INT and a QB rating of 76.3

October 4, 2009: Pats win, 27-21

21-32 for 258 yards, 1 TD (one rushing), 0 INT and QB rating 100.8

January 10, 2010: Ravens win, 33-14

23-42 for 154 yards with 2 TD, 3 INT and QB rating of 49.1

October 17, 2010: Pats win, 23-20 (OT)
Brady 27-44 for 292 yards with 1 TD, 2 INT and a QB rating of 69.5

I don't need to expand on that awful playoff loss. But even if we just look at those four regular season wins, Brady's inconsistencies are obvious. (Albeit, understandable considering the quality of defense Baltimore throws out every year.)

His 56.3 career completion percentage against the Ravens is worse than it is against all but one other team (Carolina, 56.2), and the same goes for his 77.9 career QB rating. In the five total games, he's thrown only six touchdowns, but also six interceptions.

Yet again, the Pats are 4-1.

I believe it was the great Rod Rust who once said, "Stats are for losers," and that never appears to be more true than when looking at Tom Brady's history with the Baltimore Ravens. So maybe I should revise my statement from earlier in this post.

Maybe the Pats don't need a big game from Brady to make it to the Big Game. If they can find a way to hog tie Ray Rice, push Fu-Man Flacco into a few precarious positions, force a few turnovers, and hold onto the ball themselves, maybe the Pats can grind out an old fashioned, smash mouth win.

But I'll stand by this: If they do protect Brady, and he does have time to work. The Pats will win. And it's on to Indy.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering what Claude Julien would do if one of the Bruins players was running Facebook Live during his postgame comments.
 
*Auston Matthews is obviously making a huge impression in Toronto as his Centennial Classic jersey sold for over $11,000 at a charity auction.
 
*Clark Booth knows it’s time to talk about the NFL, but instead he wants to talk about Milt Schmidt. I agree with Clark.

*Sabres goalie Robin Lehner says that his Buffalo teammates need to start doing their job as the season circles down the drain.

*Pierre McGuire talks with TSN sports radio about the Ottawa Senators, and the tough road trip coming up for them.
 
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has more bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning as Ryan Callahan is going to be out for another four weeks with a lower body injury.
 
*As the Detroit Red Wings continue to round up the bottom in the Atlantic Division, Thomas Vanek may become trade bait.
 
*Peter Budaj is giving the Kings the saves that they need with Jonathan Quick out long term with injury.
 
*For something completely different: Tom E. Curran points out some togetherness issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers based on Antonio Brown’s Facebook post.