AFC Championship: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Sunday January 22, 2012 3:05 PM
Line: Ravens +7 O/U 50
Sing it with me now… BACK! We’re BACK in the Saddle Again… We’re riding, we’re loading up our pistols, we’re riding, we really got a fistful, we’re riding, we’re shinning up our saddles, we’re riding, this snake is gonna rattle! That’s right ladies and gentleman, your Baltimore Ravens are back in the AFC Championship game and 60 mere minutes away from their second ever trip to the Super Bowl. Will the Mighty Men slay the Belichick Beast, or will they fall short once more? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.
RavensGab.com Keys to the Game
Put Brady On The Ground
You might as well ignore all of the other Keys to the Game because this is the only one that really matters. If the Ravens are going to win this ball game they have got to get in Tom Brady’s face and put him on the ground. Brady becomes a completely different animal all together when he’s hurried up and when he’s pressured. He’s inconsistent, he’s mistake prone, and he’s flustered. The Ravens have got to put as much pressure as possible on him from moment one.
Run Ray Rice Till His Wheels Fall Off
Everyone remembers how well Ray ran the last time he played in Foxboro, and Cam has to go back to the future and dial up that run oriented pressure once again. It’s true that New England has a terrible overall defense, but their run coverage is actually pretty solid. The Ravens can take advantage of this imbalance by running right at the Pats early and often. If they can get a good run game going, they’ll open up the vulnerable Patriot secondary to all sorts of mayhem.
Bump Them Off
Go back and watch how Pittsburgh beat New England, and you can see that it’s not impossible to contain Tom Brady’s lethal weapons Gronkowski, Welker and Hernandez. The Steelers bumped the Pats right at the line of scrimmage and it completely threw off their timing on routes down the field. If the Ravens are going to have the same sort of success, they should take a page from the LeBeau playbook and press the line right at the point of attack.
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
Make no mistake, this is the best offense the Ravens have faced all season. They’re strong, they’re talented, and pretty much everything they do fits perfectly into a succinct weakness the Ravens exhibit. To counter this seemingly glaring mismatch, the Ravens have to make sure there is Zero separation between themselves and their intended targets. This means pressuring the opposing targets all over the field. Be in their face, be right where they are at all times. The Ravens have to come out in strong man coverage and make sure Brady is throwing the ball into the tightest window imaginable, and if possible, right into the ground.
Make Turnovers Count
No one has forced more turnovers against Tom Terrific than the Baltimore Ravens. They get after him, they pressure him, and they put him on the ground. As such he fumbles, he bumbles and he throws interceptions. He’s done it in the past and he will do it this weekend, guaranteed. The trick is to make them count. Get you hands on the ball, don’t drop anything that could be a possible INT, and for the love of God, score points when you’re given a gift. Even if it’s just a three, that slow bleeding death will cripple the Pats.
Ravens Gab Predictions
Jonathon Scruggs (11-5)
I have been struggling with this game all week. I just don’t know who to pick. My head says Patriots, my heart says Ravens. In the end I think turnovers are going to be the story of this game, and I think Tom Terrific and his Patriots commit one or two more than Bazooka Joe and his Ravens. Ravens move on to the Super Bowl.
Ravens 26 — Patriots 24
Matt Jergensen (11-5)
“A few days ago I felt that the Patriots had enough to win but as the week has moved on I see that things are falling into place for a Baltimore upset. Ray Rice rarely has two bad games in a row and I feel that Joe Flacco will answer the call and play a solid game. The Ravens vets know what’s at stake here and I expect and inspired performance. All aboard to Indy!
Ravens 27 – Patriots 24
Gene Winner (12-4)
“The odds are against the Ravens in this match-up. Yet, they seem to always do well in the games of great importance this year. This might be the year where defenses are appreciated a little more this season. So, I’m sticking with our Ravens for this one.”
Ravens 31 – Patriots 27
“48 Hours ago I picked the Patriots. Recently I rescinded that thought and I am now riding the Ravens again. Flacco will have an awesome day. He has done it before when it was neccessary for him to step up and perform. Ray Rice will be nearly unstoppable. Brady will not be able to pick up the blitzes in time and throw 5 interceptions 3 to Ed Reed. Thats my Ravens football fantasy for Sunday’s AFC Championship game. If certain parts of this fantasy reveal themselves in the most strenuous terms the Ravens will win this game. Very Unlikely-YES Completely out of the question-NO”
Ravens 28 – Patriots 27