Baltimore (7-5) at New England (10-2)
When: Sunday, December 11th 2016
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: ESPN
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The New England Patriots will look to continue their regular season dominance over the Baltimore Ravens when the two teams meet on Monday Night Football to conclude Week 14. New England owns a 7-1 record against the Ravens in the regular season, but Baltimore has a pair of playoff victories in Foxborough and four of the last six meetings have been decided by four points or less. With Oakland’s loss on Thursday, the Patriots now own a half-game lead for the top spot in the AFC and can make it a full game with a win tonight. New England has won three in a row, although the combined record of those opponents entering Week 13 is 8-28. Brady has 19 touchdown passes versus only one interception this season after missing the first four games, but he is without his No. 1 receiving target in tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady has 12 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in his career against the Ravens (playoffs included). Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has stepped up and caught a season-high eight balls in last week’s 26-10 win over Los Angeles. Running back LeGarrette Blount is 43 yards shy of his second 1,000-yard season. The Patriots’ defense is tied with Baltimore with 17.3 points allowed – second in the NFL.
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Baltimore’s mediocore season was highlighted by their best performance of the year in last week’s 38-6 thrashing of Miami, who had won six in a row. The Ravens are now 4-1 in their last five games and are tied with Pittsburgh in the AFC North, but do have the tiebreaker currently. Quarterback Joe Flacco set season highs with 381 yards passing and four touchdowns while setting a franchise record with 36 completions. Tight end Dennis Pitta had nine catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns, part of a unit that features veteran Steve Smith (54 catches), speedster Mike Wallace (57 catches) and Breshad Perriman (15.3 yards a catch) at wide receiver. The running game is led by Terrance West, who has 650 yards on the ground and another 122 receiving. The Ravens have the league’s top-ranked defense (296.1 yards per game) and rank No. 1 against the run (73.8 yards). The biggest weapon the Ravens might have is their kicker, Justin Tucker, who has converted all 28 of his field goal attempts including eight of them over 50 yards. The Ravens will be in Pittsburgh in two weeks after a home date with Philadelphia.
The Ravens are a very sneaky team and are hot right now. The loss of Gronk hurts the Patriots offense, but Martellus Bennett is about the best backup in the NFL you could ask for. He had two 100 yard receiving efforts while Gronkowski was out in the beginning of the season. The Ravens defense should be able to slow down New England enough to get the cover here.
Pick: Ravens +6.5