The Patriots did what everyone thought they would do on Sunday and beat the Houston Texans to move on. Last season the Pats beat the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game and will have to do so once again if they hope to have a shot at the Super Bowl.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich to discuss the Ravens coming to Gillette, Ray Lewis’ retirement, and the injury to Patriots rookie Chandler Jones.
The Ravens played just over an extra quarter of football in their win over the Denver Broncos on Saturday. Are the Ravens going to be tired coming to Foxboro because they played that longer game?
“I don’t really buy into that,” said Howe. “Baltimore is a physically tough team, they’re a mentally tough team. They’re not really afraid of any sort of challenges. This is a story line that anybody can play up and buy into it if they wish, but I don’t see it with this Baltimore team.”
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced he would be retiring at the conclusion of the season. Does an emotional situation like that really drive a team? Can it actually play a difference in the outcome of a game?
“I think because they are so defensively driven they need to be on an emotional high, especially around him,” Howe said of Lewis. “I think it would be different if they had a quarterback who was in the same sort of category as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning or whoever, but they need to win a game defensively. They need to make tough physical plays, they need to play an emotional brand of football.”
They moved on to discuss some of the injuries the Patriots are dealing with. We know that Rob Gronkowski is out for the rest of the playoffs after re-injuring his forearm, but what about defensive end Chandler Jones? Jones left the win over the Texans at the end of the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. How much of a factor is it if Jones doesn’t play or is limited when he does?
“To be honest I’m not sure how much of a factor it is,” said Howe. “In the last two months Chandler Jones hasn’t been nearly as good as he was in the first half of the season. I’m not sure if that was because of the ankle or because of the ‘rookie wall’ and him tiring, or just offenses catching up to the guy.”
Howe expects Jones to be limited in this weekend’s game, but says it could be a good sign that he wasn’t in a walking boot following Sunday’s win.