AFC Championship Rematch


tom_brady

Photo by: Rich Kane/Icon SMI

Baltimore will have a chance to get their revenge against the Pats on Sunday night.  Both teams are coming off tough losses last week.  I wrote in depth about the Ravens painful loss, so I’ll just talk about New England’s.  The Pats came into the game as nearly a two touchdown favorite against the Cardinals, but couldn’t even win straight up.  They had a long, but makeable field goal to win the game as time expired, but Gostkowski left it wide. Sound familiar?

Brady and the offense surprisingly struggled to put up points against Arizona’s defense.  Now, the Cards may not come up in the conversation of top defenses, but they are underrated quite a bit.  Patrick Peterson has already climbed the ranks as one of the better young corners in the game, and the rest of the physical defense has been very solid for quite some time now.  Still, this was a winnable game, to say the least, that they let slip out of their hands.  It isn’t fair to say that this was is what we should expect to see this weekend, because every team plays below their level at times.  I expect the Pats to rebound some come Sunday, and play their hardest against a stout Baltimore team.  They could have been looking ahead to this game, but that won’t happen again.

Of course, the Patriots have a great offense.  Brady is running the show once again, but is without one of his top weapons.  Aaron Hernanez suffered a high ankle sprain in last weeks game, and is almost certain to sit out against the Ravens.  Wes Welker was shockingly benched to start the game in favor of Julian Edelman. Welker still played a big role, but the sneaky slot receivers day of 10+ catches each week may be over.  Rob Gronkowski is still a matchup nightmare, and should be a big target in the red zone and beyond.  Brandon Lloyd has come on as the top receiver in New England, but he has hardly torched defenses so far.  He has been around 60 yards each game so far, but that isn’t shocking considering the Patriots spread offense attack.  Kellen Winslow was recently added, but has been derailed by injuries recently in his career.  I doubt he will be a big factor this week, but Brady works his tight ends into the rotation better than anyone.

New England is still a pretty bad defensively.  If Baltimore wants to win this game, they have to outscore the Pats.  That seems pretty obvious, well very obvious, but the point is that they have to score a lot to win this game.  They can’t settle on their defense on this one to hold them in it, because nobody is going to completely shut down the Pats.  Luckily, the Ravens have proven that they are able to score in bunches as well.  If Baltimore can keep the turnovers down and get Ray Rice the ball, I like their chances.

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