NFL Playoffs: Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots Breakdown

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The Baltimore Ravens look to advance to the Super Bowl by going through yet another team that is favored to beat them.  Last week they knocked off Peyton Manning and the streaking Broncos, this week they’ll have to take on the New England Patriots – in Foxboro no less.  Ray Lewis has obviously been an inspiration to this team, but will the magic that has allowed them to win tight games all season carry over against a very tough Patriots group that is riding high after having just dismantled the Texans?

Key Matchup: Ray Rice vs. Pats defense.  The Ravens must control the ball if they want to win.  The Patriots are much better than the Ravens on offense and Brady will probably score at will on that defense.  But the Patriot defense isn’t that stout, and Rice should have an opportunity set the pace of Baltimore.  If the Ravens are unable to establish a run game I don’t think there is any way that Joe Flacco can keep up with Tom Brady in a shootout.

Player to Watch: Tom Brady.  Who else would you watch?  This guy has been as clutch as they come in the post season and I doubt we’ll see anything different in this game.  The Ravens defense will have a hard time slowing him and that dynamic receiving corps down.  I expect to see a big day for Tom Brady.

My Prediction:  Ravens 24 Patriots 35.  There are going to be some points scored in this game.  I don’t think either defense is going to be able to stop the opposing team and it may come down to a turnover battle.  I just can’t envision Tom Brady getting beat in this situation (although I did say the same thing about Peyton Manning last week).  If the Ravens want to stay in the game they need to control the ball and keep Brady on the sidelines.