Earlier today I was a guest on ESPN Radio with Bobby Curran talking about the NFL Conference Championship games this weekend. We talked about the matchups position by position and discussed the themes I felt would have important roles in the outcome of the two games. Here’s a basic summary of how I see things transpiring.
I just don’t see the Ravens being able to move the ball consistently. The reality is that Baltimore’s offense scored just 3-points last week. If Jacoby Jones didn’t muff that punt in the 1st quarter, the Ravens wouldn’t have beaten the Houston Texans, and that’s with T.J. Yates.
I know everyone talks about how suspect the Patriots defense has been and that they ranked 31st in the league giving up 411.1 yards per game, but that’s pretty deceiving. The 15-1 Green Bay Packers, who just last week were the favorite to win the Super Bowl, was the sole team behind the Patriots giving up 411.6 yards per game. When you’re a team routinely up by 20 points in the 4th quarter and exchanging yards for time off the clock, the yards against you on the stat sheet tend to pile up. It’s meaningless. The reality is that the Patriots were smack in the middle of the pack. They were 15th in scoring defense. And with their offense, that’s good enough to win more often than not.
While the Patriots aren’t a running team and the Ravens are known for being great against the run, I do think you’ll see the Patriots have some level of success running the ball with Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. New England will pin the Ravens run personnel on the side lines and force the nickel defense to stay on the the field at times by going no huddle, keeping the Ravens from changing to run personnel.
Without Todd Heap and Derrick Mason I just don’t think Flacco can throw it consistently. Anquan Bolden is more of a possession receiver than a deep threat and to me Torrey Smith is one dimensional and only effective running the deep routes. Basically, the way I see it is that if you have 11-guys focusing on Ray Rice like Houston did last week, Rice will have a hard time carrying the team.
The only way I see the Ravens winning here is if they do what the Giants did to the Bills in Super Bowl XXV when they kept the ball for the entire game. If you recall the Bills had the ball for only about 19 minutes and scored 19 points. The Patriots will have the ball for more than 18 minutes… I know that Baltimore has Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata etc., and while that sounds nice, I’ll take my chances with Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and everyone else the Pats throw at you. The offensive line isn’t adept at run blocking, but they do a great job in pass protection.
The Ravens corners will have to cover the wide outs, you just can’t let them run free no matter who they are because Brady will find them (yes, even Ochocinco). The linebackers and safeties will have to concentrate so much on covering New England’s two tight ends and Welker between the hash marks, look for Danny Woodhead to play the Darren Sproles role and frustrate the Ravens coming out of the backfield.
Best Guess = Blowout. 38 9
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.