In this afternoon’s first conference championship game, the top two seeds in the AFC face off as Baltimore travels to Gillette Stadium to face the Patriots.
For Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (the subject of a recent MSF photo story) this is a big opportunity to show that he belongs in the discussion of the upper tier quarterbacks in the NFL. For Patriots superstar Tom Brady, today provides an opportunity to avenge a playoff drubbing at the hands a Baltimore a few years ago with a win propelling the Brady-Belichick duo to its fifth Super Bowl appearance.
Here is all the basic info you need to know, what MSF’s writers have said about the game this week, and a poll so you can take your pick.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots Game Info
- Ravens-Patriots Date: Sunday, January 22nd
- Ravens-Patriots Time: 3:00 ET
- Ravens-Patriots TV: CBS
- Ravens-Patriots Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (with Steve Tasker)
- Ravens-Patriots Point Spread: Patriots -7
- Ravens-Patriots Over-Under: 50.5
Image source: N.T.C.F.
Steve’s Ravens-Patriots Prediction
Click to read Steve’s complete Ravens-Patriots Preview.
For the Ravens to win, they will have to hold Tom Brady under his average of nearly 318 passing yards a game. They allow under 200 yards passing on average, but they haven’t faced a tough quarterback since Week 15 when they went up against Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Even then, he only had 270 yards and a touchdown. Tom Brady will be the best quarterback they have faced all season, and limiting his productivity is necessary for a shot to win.
They will also need to keep a close watch on the two tight ends in Gronkowski and Hernandez. If the linebackers can shut them down, Brady will have to key in on Wes Welker, and it could make him predictable. Without a doubt, the Ravens have plans in place to shut down the two tight ends, and time will tell if they are successful.
The Ravens’ defense is one of the best in the league, but Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game of football. He will find a way to get the ball into the endzone, even if his tight ends are taken out of the equation.
I continue to doubt Joe Flacco, but a Super Bowl victory would change my thoughts. It just won’t happen this year.
- Pick: Patriots 31 | Ravens 27
Jerod’s Ravens-Patriots Spread Pick
I didn’t follow the Ravens-Texans game all that closely through the first 3 quarters yesterday. Around the start of the 4th quarter I tweeted out that it sounded like Houston was outplaying Baltimore despite the score. Every tweet I received in reply agreed.
While Houston is a good team with a great running back, Baltimore should have been able to dispatch of a T.J. Yates-led team with far more ease if they are thinking about going into New England and winning. I just don’t see.
Baltimore’s defense is very good, but not the dominant unit it once was, and New England’s defense seems to be buoyed by the return to health of some key players; and we know how powerful Brady’s connection with his tight ends has become.
If this game was in Baltimore, where the Ravens always play with an extra bounce in their step, I’d consider taking the points. In New England, with Brady and the Pats looking as locked in as they do, I think I’d lay a couple of touchdowns, which makes a little more than one an easy decision.
- Ravens-Patriots spread pick: Patriots -7
Who do you think will win?
And don’t be shy. Defend your pick below in the comment section.