The Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots AFC Championship match-up is going to be epic. It is a fitting match-up for the AFC crown. It puts together two teams that have been bitter playoff rivals in the past. It's the best quarterback of this generation in Tom Brady, against the best "defensive quarterback" or middle linebacker of this generation, Ray Lewis.
There is a chance for redemption at stake for both teams involved. There is a chance for The Ravens to get redemption for losing last season's AFC Championship Game because of a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff. On the other side, there is a chance of redemption for Tom Brady and the Patriots for letting another chance for Super Bowl glory slip through their fingers, and further cementing the Patriots as one of the greatest NFL dynasties in history.
Coming into this game, taking place in Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots are a pretty heavy favorite by -9.5 points over the underdog Baltimore Ravens. That basically says that the Ravens chances of coming away with a win in this match-up are slim but not impossible. But I am here to say that the Ravens will not only win this game, but it will be a blowout. Yup a blowout! The Ravens are going to end up winning this game by 17-20 points on Sunday.
My rationale for such a bold, and in the minds of some who are reading this article right now, asinine statement, is kind of interesting. I'm going to try to explain this as best as I can.
The key to beating Tom Brady is to disrupt the timing of the offense as best as you can with a strong pass rush and being physical with the outside receivers and tight ends. But in this case it will only be a tight end because the Patriots are going to be missing Rob Gronkowski who is out with a broke left arm. Now once you throw off the timing and rhythm of the passing attack, it is possible to get Tom Brady to make mistakes and commit turnovers, especially if you get him to dance around in the pocket and make him uncomfortable. Terrell Suggs is back and will be very motivated to get this done for the Ravens defense. You do not necessarily have to sack Tom Brady, but you definitely need to get him rattled in the pocket.
I think about games like Week 2 versus the Cardinals. It was a home game for the Patriots where the Cardinals were able to get pressure on Brady consistently and even were able to sack him 4 times. They were also able to contain the passing game to a certain degree in holding Brady and the Pats to 18 points. San Francisco was also able to do this for the majority of the game in Week 15 until they started to fold in the fourth quarter. The Ravens have an experienced defense and can stay disciplined long enough to get this task done in a championship setting.
Offensively, quarterback Joe Flacco is playing stellar football and should be brimming with confidence coming off of a win against the Denver Broncos in less than ideal weather. He has faced this Patriots defense before and performed well. The Patriots defense can be beaten with the deep ball and Flacco is throwing the deep ball better than anyone right now. Joe Flacco needs to turn in another solid performance and should be up to the task. But even more crucial than that is making sure that running back Ray Rice is involved early and often. If they can get the running game rolling it will make the deep ball an easier proposition. Fortunately for the Ravens, they do not depend on play-action to set up their deep game the way the Patriots previous playoff opponent, the Houston Texans, did.
Also this is going to be the most desperate Ravens team that the Patriots have ever faced. The Ravens want to give this game 100% concentration and get this done Sunday, so that Ray Lewis, one of the greatest leaders in NFL history, can finish his career with a chance at a Super Bowl Championship. The motivation for the Ravens to turn in one of their greatest performances ever is all there for the offensive side of the ball, but more importantly for the defensive side of the football.
If the Baltimore Ravens play to their full potential this game could be the blowout that the San Francisco 49ers missed out on when they had their defensive lapse and gave up a 31-3 lead in Gillette. I see the Ravens beating the Patriots 38-20 and stunning the Foxboro, Massachusetts crowd.