QB Tim Tebow and QB Tom Brady meet in a battle of one of the elite signal callers in the game and one of the most criticized ones. It should make for a great battle on the NFL betting lines when the Baltimore Ravens take on the New England Patriots for the second time this year.
Year To Date Record: 61-65 ATS
Upset Record: 19-35, -$765
AFC Championship Matchup: Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Date: Sunday, January 22nd, 3:00 ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
NFL Divisional Lines: New England -7.5
AFC Championship TV Schedule: CBS
Ravens Notes: If there is one thing that we are absolutely sure of, it is that the Ravens aren’t going to be intimidating going into this game. They are a team that is tough as nails, and they have already beaten some of the best teams in the league both at home and on the road. Baltimore also survived a brutal test from the Houston Texans on Sunday, as they had to escape with a 20-13 victory. The defense played its heart out and held down the Texans to just 13 points, though the ground attack was successful with RB Arian Foster running the ball. Against the Patriots though, that shouldn’t be all that much of an issue. QB Joe Flacco really didn’t have a fantastic game last week, going just 14-of-27 for 176 yards with two TDs and no picks. The defense forced three turnovers and the special teams had another turnover that turned into 17 first quarter points. The team wasn’t able to really do much of anything else for the rest of the game, but the defense did the rest and guided the team to victory. Keep an eye on how this defense plays, especially if S Ed Reed really turns out to be seriously injured from the last play of the game when he had to get carried off the field by his teammates.
Patriots Notes: It is going to be an interesting week ahead for the Patriots. They are in the position where they are expected to win the AFC, but they have been in this spot before, and for the most part, over the course of the last half decade or so, they have failed. They were beaten by the New York Jets and these Ravens in back to back seasons, and they were handled in the Super Bowl by a New York Giants team that just shouldn’t have truly matched up. Yet they have remained the favorite in the conference quite a bit over the last year or so, and now, they are just one step away from getting back to the Super Bowl for the first time since they were 18-0 in the blustery winter months of 2008. That year, QB Tom Brady was breaking all sorts of offensive records along with WR Randy Moss. This year, it is Brady is getting the job done again, but he has a significantly different helper. TE Rob Gronkowski had 17 TD receptions in the regular season to go with one on the ground, setting all sorts of tight end marks along the way. He had 10 grabs, 144 yards, and an NFL playoff record three TDs against the Baltimore Ravens, without a doubt the best game that a tight end has ever had in the postseason in league history. Meanwhile, Brady was just Brady, throwing for 363 yards and a ho-hum six TDs. Five of those came in the first half, and he ended up breaking records for most TD passes in a game and most in a half in playoff history. It was a season in which he joined the 5,000 yard club in a single year, and though he broke QB Dan Marino’s record with over 5,200 passing yards, he didn’t beat out QB Drew Brees for the league lead. However, Brady can do something that Brees now cannot: Lift the Lombardi Trophy once again. Injuries are going to be worth watching throughout the week. DE Mark Anderson, who led the team with 10 sacks in the regular season, hurt his leg, while TE Aaron Hernandez, who had over 100 total yards of offense in his own right against Baltimore, might have suffered a concussion that could keep him out of the fold.
The Final Word: Soft teams don’t win the Super Bowl. Sometimes they play in the big game, but generally speaking, when they run up against their toughest test, they end up getting smashed. Baltimore is as tough as it could be, and considering the fact that the Patriots haven’t played a team this good this year, and when they did play against a smashmouth type of team, the Pittsburgh Steelers (whom Baltimore beat twice) beat the snot out of them. Don’t be all that surprised if this game gets ugly, and the uglier it gets, the better off the Ravens are.
AFC Championship Pick: Baltimore +7.5
AFC Championship Game Prediction: Baltimore 31 – New England 16