Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots
When: Sunday, Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Gillette Stadium
Ray Lewis has two games max left in his career. Baltimore has had to deal with distractions of Ray Lewis’ final postseason run, and the outdoor elements in order to get by the Denver Broncos. Lewis has garnered 30 tackles already during the 2013 postseason. The Northeast will be a lot more kind during the game, as the expected temperature is to be around 30 degrees at kickoff.
The Baltimore Ravens were seconds away from defeating the Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship when the unthinkable happened. Lee Evans dropped a sure touchdown pass, and then Billy Cundiff missed a game tying 32 yard field goal attempt. The Ravens went from a certain win, to a certain tie, to a heartbreaking loss within a couple of plays. While, they did exact a measure of revenge during the regular season, the Patriots and Ravens are headed towards a monumental clash on Sunday evening.
The culprits of the 2012 AFC Championship are no longer with Baltimore. However, this conference title game doesn’t start with a Ravens’ receiver holding a ball in the end zone. To earn their first trip to the Super Bowl since 2000, they must play a full 60 minutes.
The New England Patriots seem to roll out a new offensive weapon every week. In the divisional round, Shane Vereen scored three touchdowns against the Texans. Vereen had 122 yards of offense, and he was a matchup problem for the opposing linebackers.
Tom Brady has had his troubles with the Ravens’ defense in the past, and it’s likely to be the same type of physical game. While, Brady is the only quarterback playing on Sunday that has participated in a Super Bowl, he is far from a lock to return. Expect New England to run the up tempo offense against the Ravens.
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense should look to have the same offensive philosophy on Sunday. Although New England is tough up front, they want to run the ball, and hit the defense with big pass plays. Ray Rice needs to be a factor back, and out play the Patriots linebackers in the passing game.
Neither pass defense has been dominating over the course of the season, but they make plays at the most opportune times. The Ravens are in the top 12 in scoring defense, while New England is at number Nine.
During past games, turnovers have played a huge factor in determining the outcome. The Ravens must overcome the dropped passes that have doomed them in recent playoff runs. For the Patriots, Tom Brady has to stand strong in the pocket and deliver the ball on target. If he is under immense pressure, Brady has a tendency to look at the rush. Finally, the Ravens get over the hump in the AFC Championship.
New England 24
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