Friday, January 20, 2012
AFC Championship Game Preview
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
These two teams are polar opposites facing each other for the right to go to Super Bowl 46 in two weeks.
The Ravens play good, solid defense but have a suspect offense, with many questioning quarterback Joe Flacco's abilities in big games.
The Patriots defense is awful, allowing the most yards of any of the four remaining playoff teams. However, they are head and shoulders above the rest (especially Baltimore) when it comes to offense.
Quarterback Tom Brady set a playoff record last weekend with six touchdown passes in the rout of the Denver Broncos. Tight Ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez present match up problems for opposing defenses and of course, Brady's go to guy, Wes Welker is among the league leaders in receiving.
What the game should come down to is turnovers, especially if the Patriots DO NOT commit them.
The Ravens thrive on turnovers as they can put points on the board when the defense gives them a shorter playing field. Baltimore will also need running back Ray Rice to have a big game like he did two years ago when they beat New England in the Wild Card Round.
If this happens, look for a surprise in the game with Baltimore emerging the victor as they were two years in the AFC Wild Card Round when they jumped all over the Pats on the way to an easy 33-14 decision in Foxboro.
However, the Patriots have been rolling and Brady has not been committing turnovers, so it stands to reason the Ravens won't be given the same opportunities they had last week against Houston.
It should be a good game (with weather possibly factoring in it) that could hinge on a huge break going one way or the other.
Therefore, take the Patriots, 27-17 in a well played game as Brady and company make a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time in four years.