OK, the first thing I'm going to do is unload an enormous stat dump on you all. This is what the Patriots defenses have allowed in 2012 (including post-season against the Texans), color coded for each category where red means the offense is least likely to benefit, green meaning offense is most likely to benefit:

1st Down

Deep Left: 10/23, 246 Yards, 1 TD, 2 INT --> 43.5%, 10.7 Y/A, 61.1 QB Rating

Deep Middle: 10/18, 293 Yards, 4 TD, 2 INT --> 55.6%, 16.3 Y/A, 100.5 QB Rating

Deep Right: 13/25, 350 Yards, 5 TD, 0 INT --> 52.0%, 14.0 Y/A, 137.1 QB Rating

2nd Down

Deep Left: 6/12, 177 Yards, 0 TD, 1 INT --> 50.0%, 14.8 Y/A, 61.1 QB Rating

Deep Middle: 5/10, 135 Yards, 1 TD, 2 INT --> 50.0%, 13.5 Y/A, 89.6 QB Rating

Deep Right: 5/15, 118 Yards, 0 TD, 3 INT --> 33.3%, 7.9 Y/A, 23.1 QB Rating

3rd Down

Deep Left: 5/13, 131 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT --> 38.5%, 10.1 Y/A, 69.7 QB Rating

Deep Middle: 8/11, 215 Yards, 0 TD, 1 INT --> 72.7%, 19.5 Y/A, 76.9 QB Rating

Deep Right: 5/14, 130 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT --> 35.7%, 9.3 Y/A, 64.6 QB rating

4th Down

Deep Left: 1/1, 24 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 100.0%, 24.0 Y/A, 118.8 QB Rating

Deep Middle: 0/1, 0 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 0.0%, 0.0 Y/A, 39.6 QB Rating

Deep Right: 2/2, 45 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 100.0%, 22.5 Y/A, 118.8 QB Rating

Total

Deep Left: 22/49, 578 Yards, 2 TD, 4 INT --> 44.9%, 11.8 Y/A, 68.2 QB Rating

Deep Middle: 23/40, 643 Yards, 5 TD, 5 INT --> 57.5%, 16.1 Y/A, 102.1 QB Rating

Deep Right: 25/56, 643 Yards, 6 TD, 4 INT --> 44.6%, 11.5 Y/A, 93.1 QB Rating

By Down

1st: 33/66, 889 Yards, 10 TD, 4 INT --> 50.0%, 13.5 Y/A, 110.2 QB Rating

2nd: 16/37, 430 Yards, 1 TD, 6 INT --> 43.2%, 11.6 Y/A, 56.0 QB Rating

3rd: 18/38, 476 Yards, 2 TD, 3 INT --> 47.4%, 12.5 Y/A, 78.3 QB Rating

4th: 3/4, 69 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 75.0%, 17.3 Y/A, 116.7 QB Rating

All Deep Passes

70/145, 1864 Yards, 13 TD, 13 INT --> 48.3%, 12.9 Y/A,86.9 QB Rating

AnalysisI was surprised that their defense was actually this effective against the deep ball. They allow a very high completion percentage, but a 1-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio allowed is very good. Flacco has thrown only 2 interceptions on deep passes all season, and of course one of them came against the Patriots.

Obviously the time to throw deep on the Patriots is first down. Caldwell ran the ball on first down almost exclusively in the second half last week. He'll have to take some shots down field on first down this week, because that's the Patriots biggest weakness. Second down is absolutely the wrong time to take a shot down field against the Patriots. There is potential for some success on third down, but it's clear that the Patriots can be caught off guard on first down, but are usually prepared to stop the deep ball on second and third down. Fourth down is too small a sample size to really learn anything from, but the few times offenses have tried throwing deep on them this year, it's worked out OK for them.

A good thing for us here is that Flacco likes to throw the ball to the right side of the field on deep attempts, and he is also very effective throwing deep middle, and those are both vulnerable areas for the Patriots' defense. We should avoid the left side of the field at all costs, as this is where the Patriots' defense is strongest and Flacco's effectiveness is lowest, making for a really bad match-up.

The right side of the field on first down is playing right into Flacco's wheel-house, and this Patriots defense is abysmal at stopping that play. Unfortunately, they do the best job defending the right side of the field on 2nd and 3rd downs, so we need to focus on the middle of the field in those situations.