Baltimore has been somewhat of an under the radar team although many NFL experts have predicted the Ravens to be a serious contender this year. Every time we would be ready to put the Ravens in the top class they would lay a stinker on the road against a far inferior team.
The Ravens started off 4-1 heading in to a divisional road game against a struggling Jaguars team. Flacco only threw for 137 yards and Ray Rice only rushed for 28 on Monday Night Football. The result was a Jacksonville 12-7 win. Baltimore was a 10 point favorite in this game.
Baltimore went on to win the next two games to bring their record to 6-2 with a big win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Flacco threw for 300 and the Ravens were looking good, playing confident and they had a trip to Seattle up next. Again another mediocre performance from Flacco (255) and Rice (43) and the Ravens lost outright as a 6.5 point favorite by a score of 22-17.
The Ravens were 6-3 at the time and whispers were beginning that Flacco couldn’t take them anywhere, they were soft and can’t win on the road – something they may have needed to do in the playoffs.
Baltimore than reeled off four straight wins including a prime time win against his brother and the San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens were now sitting at 10-3 with a road game in San Diego lingering. At the time this was being billed as a huge game for the Ravens chances of winning the division and getting a home game (or even a bye). Another failed result. The Chargers held Rice to 57 yards on way to a 34-14 blowout win.
The Ravens had two games left within the division and were getting some help by the Steelers leaving them opportunity for success. They defeated Cleveland at home 20-14 with one game left in Cincinnati. This was a big game to both teams. The Ravens were in the playoffs win or lose but a win could get them a bye week, a home game in the divisional round and avoiding the Patriots until the AFC Championship. Cincinnati was there to play. A win and they were finally back in the playoffs. At the time, a loss was thought to be out because of all the scenarios. Baltimore came in to the game and really set the tone early. Ray Rice went for 191 on the ground and the Ravens finally won on the road 24-16.
This past week at home, Baltimore got all they could handle from the Houston Texans but the Ravens made plays and came away with a 20-13 win, failing to cover the 7.5 point spread. It should be noted that Houston was down to a 3rd string quarterback and Andre Johnson was not 100%.
So now the Ravens will get their biggest test on the road yet against machine like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Pats are favored by 7.5 points at Bookmaker.eu, with odds creeping towards -9. The total set at 50.5.
What to make of the New England Patriots? In some respects the Patriots came in to the playoffs a little underrated. Most were talking about their terrible defense which was one of the worst in the league. Saying that, the Patriots went 13-3, secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs and Tom Brady may have won MVP in most years where Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees didn’t go off.
The Patriots were 7-1 at home this year with their only loss coming early in November to the New York Giants by a score of 24-20. New England was a 9.5 point favorite. Eli Manning passed for 2 TDs and 250 yards while Brandon Jacobs rushed for 72 yards and Victor Cruz and added 91 receiving yards.
Tom Brady and the double tight ends with Wes Welker in the slot has caused major problems. Since losing to the Giants and two in a row, the Pats have scored 37, 34, 38, 31, 34, 41, 27, 49 and now 45 in the opening round of the playoffs against a completely overmatched Denver Broncos team. So are the Pats battle tested?
Most of the teams they have killed are bottom of the barrel teams (Buffalo, Denver twice, Washington, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Kansas City and the New York Jets). Only Denver made the playoffs.
New England doesn’t run the ball often and won’t be surprised if Brady throws 50 times in this game considering the Ravens are the number 1 rushing defense and 3rd in total defense in the AFC. But can you count out Tom Brady? The Patriots were the number 1 passing offense and number 1 total offense in the AFC.
Tom Brady and the Patriots have lost three straight playoff games. This game is big to Tom personally and the entire Patriots staff understands the significance of the chance to get to the Super Bowl and somehow avoid a New Orleans or New England.
The Ravens will probably cover this game (maybe backdoor or early lead) as I can’t lay 9 points but I like the Patriots to win and advance and I think points will be scored. I’ll go over the total of 50.5 with a small parlay with Patriots moneyline.
This should be a great game!
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