Salisbury: Ravens stand slim chance


Every Monday, ESPN football analyst Sean Salisbury provides his picks and keys to the game for ESPN PlayCaller. Want to put Sean's advice to work? Think you know better? Join now and let's see what you've got.


Quarterback with most passing yards: Tom Brady
This is easy. You have the best passing team in the league with what is sure to be the MVP, and the team you are playing can't even throw up.

Quarterback with most touchdown passes: Tom Brady
Brady has thrown for almost 40 TDs this year and it's not going to change Monday night. The Ravens have no shot at throwing more touchdown passes than the Patriots. I don't care how good people think the Ravens' defense is, Brady can pick apart any defense.

Running back with most yards: Willis McGahee
The Ravens, if they plan on staying in this game, had better run the ball. So I am going to go with McGahee for the most yards rushing.

Running back with most touchdowns: Laurence Maroney
Maroney won't get a lot of yards but he will have more opportunities in close and he can still bang it in. I look for Maroney to have at least one rushing touchdown and a good shot at a second.

Wide receiver with the most receiving yards: Randy Moss
Do I really need to answer that? Moss, Moss and more Moss, especially since he was shut down in the Philadelphia game. Brady will look for Randy early and often. This will be a 100-plus-yard game for Moss.

Most field goals: Matt Stover

The Patriots won't need field goals. Stephen Gostkowski's duties will be extra points. Look for Stover to have more chances and to be steady. This is a case where the most field goals means you lose.

First team to score a touchdown: New England Patriots
I'm not sure the Ravens will score a touchdown, so I'm simply picking the Patriots.

First player to score a touchdown: Wes Welker
Look for Wes Welker to score the first touchdown on a little red zone crossing route. The Ravens will key on Moss, which will give Welker that first shot at another Tom Brady touchdown pass. I expect Welker to be a big factor in this game.

Keys to the game for the Patriots

  1. Bounce back
    I'm sure the Patriots will treat last week's win as a loss. The Patriots did not play well last week, but found a way to win. They will use this as their motivator for this week. They will be an irritated football team.

  2. Tackle
    The Patriots have to play better defense then they did last week. Don't allow the big cheap play, the punt return, the broken tackle for a 40-yard gain. Tackle, tackle, tackle!

  3. Do what you do
    Throw the ball, spread the Ravens out, see the blitz, protect your quarterback and continue your run to the Super Bowl. The Patriots will continue their big winning ways.

Keys to the game for the Ravens

  1. Run
    McGahee better have 25 to 30 touches. Even if the Ravens are down a touchdown, they have to run the ball. If the Patriots have a weakness, it's that they are susceptible to the run.

  2. Slow and steady
    When the Ravens do throw, they have to work the middle of the field, pounding the safeties and the linebackers between the hashmarks.

  3. Don't settle
    The Ravens can't just kick field goals. If that happens they have no shot. Now that sounds obvious but it's the truth. Touchdowns, not field goals -- it's a must.

Sean Salisbury is an NFL analyst for ESPN