Patriots at Ravens -- Week 3
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md. (turf, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Spread: Ravens by 3
Forecast: Clear skies; projected kickoff temperature: high-50s
Records: Patriots (Overall: 1-1, AFC East: 0-0); Ravens (Overall: 1-1, AFC North 1-0)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Jan. 22, 2011: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 (AFC championship game); Oct. 17, 2010: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 (OT). Series record: The Patriots hold a 6-0 edge during the regular season. The teams are 1-1 in postseason.
What matters: The Patriots' early issues on offense could become exacerbated this week, with tight end Aaron Hernandez's ankle injury knocking him out of action. With his ability to lineup virtually anywhere on the field, the tight end is the piece the rest of the offense orbits around and serves as the glue of New England's no-huddle offense. Kellen Winslow Jr., was brought in this week, which will allow the Patriots to continue to use their "12 personnel," but it remains to be seen how quickly he can get up to speed.
Who matters: It's time for WR Brandon Lloyd to put up or shut up. He's had his moments during the first two games, as quarterback Tom Brady forced pass after pass to him, but the connection still isn't there, and it's beginning to come at the expense of the team's overall success. Lloyd doesn't need to travel the rest of the distance this week, but he needs to show some visible progress. ... WR Deion Branch was brought back this week and will likely serve as a red-zone target. If he wants to stay on the field, he needs to show he can excel in a reduced role.
Key matchups: The Ravens' pass rush was obviously damaged when linebacker Terrell Suggs suffered an Achilles injury during the offseason, but there are still enough pieces to test the Patriots' offensive line. The Patriots allowed four sacks, a quarterback hit and five pressures against the Cardinals in Week 2.
Injuries of note: Hernandez is the only player expected to miss Sunday's game due to injury.
Inside stuff: Most people probably only know RB Shane Vereen as the 2011 second-round pick who is always injured. If he can get on the field, he could be a difference-maker catching passes out of the backfield. He's battling a foot injury, but could take some snaps from Stevan Ridley this week if healthy.
Connections: Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees spent six seasons (2004-2009 on New England's coaching staff. Ravens S James Ihedigbo started 12 games for the Pats last season. Ravens DE Arthur Jones is the older brother of Patriots rookie DE Chandler Jones.
Stat you should know: Brady is 5 of 14 with two sacks on third down. He completed 57.6 percent of his passes on third down last season. We probably don't even need to say that Brady needs to put an end to his struggles, but he does.
Looking ahead: It's too early to panic, but a loss to the Ravens could put the Patriots in a pretty sizable hole with the Bills (road) and Broncos (home) on the horizon.
Prediction: Ravens 23, Patriots 20
Nick Underhill covers the Patriots for MassLive.com. Follow him on Twitter @CBSPats or @nick_underhill.
Patriots Game Preview: Week 3 vs. Ravens
The Patriots face the Ravens in a game between 1-1 teams.
Patriots at Ravens -- Week 3