Thursday, January 19, 2012

AFC Championship Game: Old School Ravens vs High Flying Patriots

In the title game this weekend that most people saw coming, the old school (1998) Ravens go into Foxboro looking to upset the offensive juggernaut New England Patriots.  This match up features the top two seeds from the regular season, and them being in the AFC is all they have in common. 

The Ravens choose to live in a time when running the ball and defense won Super Bowls when you didn't have a good offense.  Its funny to see a team like this in the final four, but they deserve it.  They won the AFC North, which featured 3 playoff teams, including the reigning AFC Champions Pittsburgh Steelers.  They have the same Hall Of Famers on defense, and Ray Rice running the rock on offense.

For the Ravens to win:  They need to slow down the Patriots on the road.  Getting to Tom Brady is a must.  They must disrupt his timing and try to get him rattled early.  They have to get turnovers to help slow the Pat's attack and to help out an offense that isn't the best at scoring a ton of points.  Probably the biggest obstacle for the Raven's defense is stopping the double tight end attack of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.  I am not sure how they can do that (since no one has been able to so far) but if they can, they have a great shot at going to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots come in riding an offense that has been electric all year.  Problem is that their defense can't stop anybody.  That hasn't set them back too much so far, as they only had to beat up on the offensively challenged Denver Broncos to get to this point (to be fair, the Ravens had to beat a third string QB).  The Pats have made up for a lack of Wide Receiver by using Tight Ends to gain incredible amount of yards and touchdowns.

For the Patriots to win:  New England can win a shootout with almost anybody.  They just have to score as many points as they have all year.  No defense has really been able to slow them down yet, but they face a legendary defense in Baltimore.  New England's defense just have to make enough plays to win the game, and show the NFL that Joe Flacco can't win a title.

What happens:  New England comes out firing but Baltimore slows them down.  It becomes a slug fest that the Pats wanted to avoid.  Baltimore doesn't make enough offensive plays to put New England away, and the Patriots make a late run and win the game.  New England goes back to the Super Bowl to try and win a fourth title.    

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