FOXBOROUGH — Patriots coach Bill Belichick joked during his Tuesday morning press conference that getting ready to face Baltimore, whom his team has played seven times in the last six years, is like playing a division game.
But he was also quick to stress that the Ravens team that will be at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon is not the same Ravens team that won the AFC Championship in Foxborough two years ago, or even the same one that was here little more than a year ago, in Week 16 of the 2013 regular season.
The Ravens, who got into the playoffs as the AFC’s sixth seed, advanced after beating their divisional nemesis, the Steelers, in Pittsburgh last weekend.
Given that they’ve gotten to this point, Belichick isn’t expecting the Ravens to deviate much from what’s made them successful thus far.
“You always try to look at what a team does, but you also have to take into consideration how they think they’ll match up against you and sometimes that becomes more of a factor than others, depending on the circumstances and the team,” Belichick said.
“But there’s a lot of film on Baltimore — they’ve played 17 games, not counting the preseason, so with this staff, with this group of players, granted, there’s been some moving parts, like all teams have had, but there’s a pretty good look at what they’ve done this year, so yeah, you look at that and you try to put it all together: here’s what they’ve done, how will they approach us, what things do we need to be ready for, but again, at this time of year, I think a team’s been successful, I don’t think they’re going to put in like 50 new plays this week.
“You have a good team and you’re playing well, you’re probably going to do a lot of the things that have gotten you there. Maybe a couple wrinkles here and there, but that’s not really their style anyway, put in a new offense or a new defense this week. I can’t imagine either team doing that.”
There has been quite a bit of talk in the early days of the week about first-year offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and the system he’s brought to the Ravens.
But while Kubiak’s system is new to Baltimore, it isn’t new to Belichick.
“That’s Coach Kubiak’s, that’s his system. That’s what they ran in Denver, that’s what he ran in Houston, that’s what they run now,” Belichick said. “Same type of philosophy — a lot of stretch plays, get downhill, they don’t lose yardage much, so they keep the ball moving forward, stay out of third-and-long, make explosive plays in the running game, set up play-action. The line does a good job, they’re well-coordinated, they work together, and the backs do a good job of reading those blocking schemes and finding space in there and making positive yards. It’s the whole unit, it’s not one guy, but they all work together well, it’s well-coordinated.”
Asked if the Ravens cut-block, Belichick quickly shot back, “Is the Pope Catholic?”
Under Kubiak this season, the Ravens set a franchise record for total offense (5,838 yards) and points scored (509).
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