Saturday, January 9, 2010

AFC Wildcard Ravens @ Patriots

The Baltimore Ravens will look to knock off the New England Patriots today at chilly Gillette Stadium. Game time temperature should be in the low 20's.

The Ravens will look to use the methods the the New York Jets used in beating the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday and that is a strong running game, solid defense, and mistake free. That is easier said than done. Baltimore will try to ride their 5th rated rushing attack with Willis McGahee & Ray Rice, while Joe Flacco will need to be efficent and safe all at the same time. Baltimore was able to run for only 116 yards in their first matchup, a 27-21 loss in New England.

New england lost Wes Welker but does that even matter? This team just replaces players like puzzle pieces, they are simply the best at adapting. Look for Julian Edelman a 7th round draft pick to fill in well for Welker. Everyone always talks about Moss but the Patriots simply win games on 3rd down with Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk making huge convesions. The Patriots converted 43% of the time on 3rd down and 50% on 4th down. Also watch for the Patriots to try and get Benjamin Watson behind Ray Lewis.

The Welker injury gives the Ravens a better chance but still they will need to play a near perfect game. If the Ravens can hold on to the ball and keep Tully Banta-Cain out of their backfield they should be able to move the ball on the Patriots. The Patriots almost always put up 20+ points so to beat them you have to outscore them. I know that is a fact but I am saying you are not going to beat them with your defense you will still need to have a very good game on offense.

As much as I would like to see the Ravens win today I just don't see it. The Patriots were 8-0 at Gillette Stadium, and Tom Brady is 16-1 lifetime in the playoffs. That along with the fact that the Ravens are on the road where they were 3-5 and their defense has looked old at times leads me to pick the Patriots. Baltimore only lost one game all season by more than 10 points so look for them to keep it close.

Prediction New England Patriots 27 - Baltimore Ravens 20


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