AFC Championship Predictions: Patriots Heading To Super Bowl
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BOSTON (CBS) – The CBS Boston sports team makes their predictions for the AFC Championship between the Patriots and Ravens.
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Don’t let the Patriots fool you, they haven’t forgotten what happened two years ago against the Ravens. Belichick won’t let them forget.
If the Patriots offensive line keeps Brady upright, this offense is unstoppable. If the Ravens get to Brady, it changes the whole complexity of the game.
The Patriots are 7.5 point favorites, but if they really click, they may win by more than that. The tight end tandem of Gronk and Hernandez are a deadly one-two punch that never stop pounding away.
Last week against Denver, as good as the Patriots offense was, it was the defense that really impressed. They finally clicked, the entire unit, and put together a 60-minute effort. If they can continue that this week against Joe Flacco and company, Baltimore is in for a long afternoon.
Yes, Ray Rice is dangerous, so someone has to keep him in check. And don’t be surprised if you see a big play made on special teams. The Patriots take a lot of pride in that area, and with perhaps two games left in the season, they’re special teams unit is looking to come alive.
Patriots 31, Ravens 24
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots-Ravens AFC Championship game has all sorts of angles you can look at when it comes to trying to predict what will go down. Last week, it was simple; as Tebow goes so goes the Broncos. That’s exactly how it played out.
This week is tougher.
First of all, there’s absolutely no way I will ever pick against a healthy Tom Brady. All the guy does is win and he imposes that winning will on his teammates.
I do think Brady will have to be on the lookout early and often though as the Ravens will bring it against the veteran. They will try to destroy him. If Brady and company can hang with them for that initial onslaught and make their adjustments, they should score points. Expect no-huddle that will try to wear down the older Ravens as the game goes on. Also, expect everyone to share the offensive workload. From Gronk and Hernandez to Welker-Branch to Green-Ellis/Woodhead/Ridley. And, maybe even a surprise from Ochocinco.
As for the Pats defense, it’s business as usual. Treat Ray Rice like they treated Tim Tebow. Rice wants the ball in his hands 20-30 times. You have to keep someone on him at all times (how about Rob Ninkovich?). If they shut down Rice, I don’t think Baltimore has enough weapons to match the Patriots in points. Flacco can’t win you the game.
Last two keys: 1) Turnovers are huge, and 2) home field should be big for the Patriots.
I like the Pats and Brady 34-28
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
I almost picked the Baltimore Ravens in this game. I am a firm believer in defense wins and the Pats defense is not on the same par as the Ravens. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are hall of famers and Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are simply stars. That right there though, has held me up.
The Ravens have stars. The Pats have stars also but they play better as a team. I believe Tom Brady will have his game and the Pats will control the tempo. When the Ravens figure out how to stop Rob Gronkowski, the Pats will change it up and use Aaron Hernandez or Danny Woodhead to open the offense up. I know people are afraid of that Baltimore defense and they have earned that respect, but the more I look at it, I feel like they might be chasing all game long.
Joe Flacco is going to have to be the difference. He is going to have to keep drives going and I am not sure he can do that consistently. Every three and out that the offense goes through, will but pressure on the Ravens QB. He’s good, but this is not his time.
But really, this game has nothing to do with the players on the field. This is all about Mr Kraft and his late wife, Myra. The Patriots are playing for something bigger than a Superbowl championship. The guys are playing to say thank you.
Inside that locker room there is the dedication to Mr Kraft. The Pats have what it takes on the field and they have a great coach that will put them in the right position to win. The one thing they were missing was desperation and after listening to Mr. Kraft and the players talk about the love they have for each other on Friday, I believe they have that also.
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Joe Flacco’s lack of mobility ends up really killing the Ravens in this game. Obviously turnovers and hitting the quarterback are gigantic factors for both teams. In the end, the the Patriots just have too much for the Ravens to contend with and win this one 28-20.
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
I feel like it will be a slugfest early on between the Patriots and Ravens. Baltimore has a lot of swagger, they went into Foxboro and won two years ago, but I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to win. That is the issue. You watch them play against the Texans, sometimes they remind you of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense at times when there is a drought, when they line up to run plays just to run plays. If Ray Rice doesn’t have 20 touches, well, you better jam those 12 touches in the third quarter; sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to their offense.
Patriots 31, Ravens 17
Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
There is only one key to this game. It is the same key that applies to every Patriots game.
The New England offensive line needs to make sure Tom Brady stays on his feet. If the O-line can protect Brady from the big, bad Baltimore Ravens then the Patriots will be on their way to the Super Bowl. If they can’t protect him from the Ravens’ pass rush, the season ends Sunday.
Sure, each team will enter the contest with a wrinkle or two up their sleeves, like the Patriots using tight end Aaron Hernandez in the backfield against the Broncos (“just trying to keep ‘em honest,” says Bill Belichick) and such plays can be game-changers.
But for the most part, a leopard isn’t going to change its spots. The Patriots will do what the Patriots do and the Ravens will do what the Ravens do.
Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins had an interesting comment on Thursday. He noted how large – and heavy – the Ravens defensive line is (“a lot of 350 pounders”). That tells me that Brady and the offense will start with the no-huddle offense and stay with the no-huddle offense until Baltimore’s behemoths start dropping like canaries in a coal mine.
I fully expect Brady to have time to pick Baltimore apart. He has every weapon available and he will use them all.
The Ravens are toughest in the red zone and it will imperative for the Patriots to put a ‘7’ on the board and not a ‘3’ when they get inside the 20.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots defense will be able to contain the Ravens’ ground game and keep Joe Flacco under control. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a defensive score from New England.
Patriots 30, Ravens 16
Tune in to the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens Sunday, January 22 at 3pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Pregame coverage begins with a special two-hour Patriots GameDay on WBZ at 11:00am, with Patriots Preview beginning at noon on the Hub!