In the most anticipated matchup of Week 9 in the NFL, the undefeated, defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will travel to Baltimore to take on the 5-2 Ravens, who lead the AFC North, on Sunday Night Football at M&T Bank Stadium. In a game featuring a classic youth-against-experience quarterback matchup, the Ravens come in as 3.5-point underdogs at home, according to CBS Sports.
But the key to the winning the game for Baltimore clearly lies with 22-year-old, second year quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has already tossed for 11 touchdowns in his team's seven games. Jackson, however, faces a historically impenetrable Patriots defense that has allowed opponents to score only 61 points through eight games, with only four touchdowns surrendered.
The Pats defense also leads the NFL with a mere 4.1 yards per play permitted. The team's 25 takeaways are nine more than the second-place San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers, who are tied at 16.
New England, as always, will send out 42-year-old future Hall of Famer Tom Brady to try for his fourth straight victory over the Ravens. Baltimore has not beaten the Patriots since 2013.
Through eight games, Brady has thrown for 13 TDs, despite a depleted receiving corps that will now be without Josh Gordon, who has reportedly been acquired by the Seattle Seahawks after New England released him on Thursday.
Watch a preview of the Sunday night New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens matchup in the video below, courtesy of NFL Network.Jackson told the Associated Press this week (via the Star Tribune) that despite the sensational start to his career, he has a long way to go before comparisons to Brady could become realistic.
"Tom Brady is definitely the one at the top," Jackson told the AP. "He has six Super Bowls. He's definitely the GOAT, definitely."
While Brady is seen by many as the greatest quarterback of all time, Jackson -- in addition to his prolific passing game -- is also the league's 10th-leading rusher, with 576 yards. He comes into the Sunday night game with a quarterback rating of 94.1, nearly equaling Brady's 95. Keeping Jackson in the pocket and forcing him to throw is likely the Patriots' plan, and appears to be the clearest way to a win for New England, according to SB Nation's Pats Pulpit.
Last week in New England's victory over the Cleveland Browns, newly acquired wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught just two passes and was on the field for 28 plays, according to SB Nation. Brady is expected to give Sanu a greater role against the Ravens, in an attempt to give the Patriots' offense a less predictable quality.
A victory for New England would give the Patriots just their third 9-0 start in franchise history, and would also be the team's 14th straight victory going back to the 2018 regular season and playoffs.
The game kicks off at 8:20 p.m. EST on Sunday, and will be broadcast by NBC Sports.