It only one was game, but quite a bit of stock was put in the Week 9 clash between the Patriots and Ravens.
Baltimore handed New England its first loss of the season in pretty convincing fashion. The Patriots’ defense finally showed some cracks after humiliating the opposition through the first eight weeks of the season, while Lamar Jackson and Co. looked nearly unstoppable.
In turn, some within the sports world now are less high on New England’s chances of winning the AFC for a fourth consecutive season. Conversely, the Ravens, who followed up their win over the Patriots with a 36-point rout of the Cincinnati Bengals, now are being viewed as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. In fact, Stephen A. Smith currently believes Baltimore is the team to beat in the AFC.
“…We keep thinking about Patrick Mahomes. We’re not thinking enough about the position Kansas City’s defense put them in,” Smith said Monday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “They can’t stop a cold when it really, really counts. They’re just horrible as far as I’m concerned. I don’t give a damn what anybody says. That defense continuously lets them down. …New England, their offense is questionable because of all the bodies they’ve lost, OK? When you look at the (AFC) South, whether it’s the coach, Jacoby Brissett goes down. You believe in Deshaun Watson but you don’t believe in Bill O’Brien. You look at the Ravens, in terms of balance, I think that they’re the team right now in the AFC.”
We’ll surely learn more about both the Patriots and Ravens in the coming weeks. New England, fresh off a Week 10 bye, will visit the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday before matchups against Dallas, Houston and Kansas City. Baltimore’s upcoming stretch will be equally challenging, as it will host the Texans this week, followed by tilts with the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.
It’s tough not to be swept up by the Ravens hype given how electrifying Jackson has been playing. But let’s give it a little more time before we start overlooking the reigning Super Bowl champions as the premier team in their own conference.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images