Ravens (13-4) at Patriots (14-3): 3:00 ET on CBS
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs (2009-10) the Patriots lost the game before it really even started. The Ravens came out hungry and utterly dominated the Pats in the first quarter scoring on their first play from scrimmage a 83-yard touchdown from Ray Rice. It was an absurdly lopsided game in which Joe Flacco threw only 10 passes and the Ravens rushed 42 times for 221 yards. Bill Belichick and the Patriots that remain from that season assuredly have that game burned into their memory and likely have seen all too much of that game tape in the study rooms this week. The keys to success for both teams are still very relevant from then to now.
The Ravens need to start strong and use their defense to throw Tom Brady and the Patriots off their game hopefully creating turnovers. They will also need to establish a strong running game in order to bring more balance to their pass attack. Joe Flacco has a much improved receiving core between Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and speedster Torrey Smith. Conversely the Patriots need to control the Ravens run game, limit their turnovers and make Joe Flacco and his mustache beat them.
The Patriots are really a puzzling team. They finally got the playoff monkey off their back by dominating the Broncos for their first playoff win since losing Superbowl XLII. Let’s be honest though, the Broncos are not a good team and if you look at the Patriots schedule it’s been a long time since they played any really good teams.Since their bye week they lost to the Steelers and Giants (2 good teams) and then beat the Jets, Chiefs, Vickless Eagles, Colts, Skins, Bronocs, Dolphins and Bills. Not a lot of good competition in there.