Will Bill Belichick pull a sneaky trick on the Baltimore Ravens in the New England Patriots’ first game after Halloween?

Max Kellerman explained Thursday on ESPN’s “First Take” that he believes the Patriots might view this Sunday’s showdown against the Ravens in Baltimore as a potential playoff matchup and therefore adjust their game plan accordingly.

Such an approach, Kellerman suggests, could throw off the Ravens in their preparation down the road should the teams meet in the postseason.

“I have a sneaking suspicion — I haven’t spoken to anyone or anything like that, but I have a sneaking suspicion,” Kellerman said. “Obviously, Bill Belichick and the Patriots want to win every game. But I have a suspicion that Belichick is now surveying the landscape and thinking, ‘We may have to play that team in the playoffs.’ And I just have a feeling he may want to give them a look, put something down on tape that ain’t gonna be there when they meet them in the playoffs. … The point is that great coaches throughout history have been known to do that. They give you a look if they think they’re gonna see you again that ain’t gonna be there the next time they see you. And I think Belichick is gonna have the ace up his sleeve in the playoffs to deal with this Ravens team.

“I still think the Patriots win this game, but I think it’s gonna be competitive and I think (Ravens quarterback) Lamar Jackson will be allowed to do certain things in this game that he will not be allowed to do if these teams meet again at Foxboro.”

This is an interesting theory. Could Kellerman be on to something?

Of course the Patriots aren’t going to be totally reckless come Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium, but they’re still undefeated (8-0) and currently have the inside track on the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Perhaps Belichick will find ways to play the long game and refrain from digging too deep into his bag of tricks, hopeful that it’ll set up the Patriots for success in a more important clash in January.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images