Lets be honest, confident or not in the Patriots this weekend you would be lying if you said the Baltimore Ravens weren't a difficult match up for the Patriots. I'm going to go over a few things inside the match up that I think will be key. But first, I just want to say something. One big reason the Ravens have been such a problem for the Patriots is because they've been strong in a lot of areas where the Patriots are weak. Even more so then any individual match up has been their style of play. They're good at running the ball, Flacoo will expose a bad secondary, and they're a very physical team.
If the Ravens win this game, their front 7 will have a big part in it. The Patriots offensive line has been a cardiac bunch this season. At times they show great potential, other times they look lost. This is why I'm nervous about this match up. Even though people are quick to point out Reed, Lewis and Rice are gone they forget to mention the players the Ravens still do have. Suggs, Ngata, Dumervil. These 3 players will cause a very long day if this offensive line does not show up. This is what it comes down to above all else. If Brady is standing upright all day, the Ravens are in big trouble. If not, the Patriots are in big trouble. The reason I point this out even though it sounds a bit obvious is because the analysts will talk about Revis, Smith, etc.
But lets be real here..The Patriots downfall has been their inability to protect Brady and get it done on defense in the post season. They have the secondary this year to get the job done. The offensive line is the unit with more questions
On defense the Patriots need to re-gain the pass rush they had earlier in the season. I'm not too worried about the DB-WR matchup. I think Revis and Browner will be OK if Flacco isn't sitting back all day. I will give the D the benefit of the doubt due to some injuries in December. Hopefully they're fully healthy and ready to go. While I am nervous about this match up, if the Patriots are fully healthy and show up as the team we saw all season, I think they can steam roll the Ravens. Where as I think the Ravens will need to play their best possible game while depending on a down day from the Patriots. Simply put, the Patriots are a better team on paper and they were a much better team through out this season. This means little once the whistle blows and the helmets are hitting come Saturday night, which brings me back to being nervous.
But make no mistake, this Patriots team is better on paper then anything the Ravens have faced since 2009. In those years the Ravens faced horrendous defenses, and luckily had Rob Gronkowski along with Akib Talib go out in the 2013 AFC championship game. IF the Patriots play their game, they should win.
Often in the NFL what should happens and what does happen are different things. However when good teams show up, they handle business. I expect the Patriots to be no different this weekend.
BETTING LINES THIS WEEKEND Patriots -6.5(favorites) Ravens +6.5(dogs)
Over Under = 48