AFC Championship Game Preview: New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens
Championship weekend is always one of the most anticipated and exciting weekends in all of sports, and this year is no different.
As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that out of the 7 (crazy, right?) AFC championships Belichick/Brady have been in the last 12 years, this may be the most fascinating.
Not only do you have Tom Brady trying to get to the Super Bowl in order to break the Pats 2 game-losing streak there, but also the most popular Raven of all time—Ray Lewis—has announced this will be his last season. Add in the fact that the Ravens just upset the heavily favored Broncos and Joe Flacco is trying to cement his ever-changing reputation and this game doesn’t have a shortage of storylines.
Now, do I think the Ravens will be able to stop the Pats hurry up? No. Likewise, do I think the Patriots secondary is going to be able to contain all of Baltimore’s offensive weapons? No chance. Which is why I believe this game could very well come down to which team is lucky enough to have the ball last. If I am a Patriots fan though, it has to worry me that the Broncos and Peyton Manning only put up 21 points of offense in 5 quarters last week (14 of Denver’s 35 points were on kickoffs) against a Ray Lewis inspired defense.
With that being said, which Joe Flacco will show up, the one from the past 2 weeks or the one that posted the two worst statistical games of the year during the regular season? Also, will Tom Brady be able to overcome his recent struggles against the Ravens and the absence of TE Rob Gronkowski?
All of these things just give it a feeling of being one of those games that we will be watching for years to come.
I mean, for example, look at the NFC championship. Plenty of talent on two very entertaining teams, yet it has taken somewhat of a backseat to this game between two of the most consistent postseason teams over the past 6 years.
In the end though, I just have a feeling that the Patriots offense will wear down Baltimore’s somewhat older defense with their hurry up offense (especially if the Pats jump out to a lead) and be able to move the ball more freely in the 4th quarter. I don’t think the Pats defense finds a way to shut down Flacco and the Ravens though and Brady wins on yet another game-winning postseason field goal. Pats 34-31.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson