BOSTON (CBS) – The 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio 1030 sports teams make their predictions for the Patriots-Ravens AFC Championship showdown on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
I have a lot of respect for this team coming in here this week. These are men, unlike the team that came in last week with that team of frauds.
This is going to be a good one, it really is. Baltimore is probably the most mentally tough team other than New England. These two teams set the standard in the NFL of how you want to be ready and extend that into the season.
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You wonder if the Ravens can come in here and duplicate last year when they really gave themselves a chance to win that ballgame.
I just go down to the simple thing and this one simple factor. I think the Patriots are deep, and a better team than last year. I can’t see any reason why Tom Brady will play the way he did last year. He has to play better, and that’s what drives him. That’s why I’m picking the Patriots in this one.
Patriots 26, Ravens 20
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The biggest question for me in this one is going to be if the Patriots can deal with the physicality of the Ravens on the perimeter.
I think Baltimore is going to try to be physical against the wide receivers, but as usual, we’ll see the Patriots try to find a way to incorporate the running backs and tight ends into the passing game.
The other question is if the Patriots can run the ball inside the 10-yard line, which I think they can. This is a tough one, and they better button it up on special teams, which I think they will do.
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Patriots 28, Ravens 24
Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
What to do, what to do.
Do I go with my head or my heart?
My head tells me this will be a close game, perhaps 3-points or less, because these two teams always seem to go down to the wire. What’s more nerve-wracking than “he who scores last wins”? To quote Moe Howard, “Oh my nerves, my nerves.”
My heart tells me the Patriots win by big. Forget the week 3 loss. The NFL was still using replacement refs and there were some bizarre calls in that game. You may remember on the Ravens winning field goal, Bill Belichick ran onto the field and grabbed one of the fake zebras by the arm in an attempt for a video review of that kick which never came.
I think the Patriots today are far superior to the Patriots of week 3. I don’t think the Ravens have improved as much over the same time period. I also think that no matter what the Patriots say publicly about the Ravens’ trash talking (“We don’t pay any attention to that”), it did not go in one ear and out the other. They want to crush this team. And they will.
Patriots 37, Ravens 13
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
This has the makings of an epic game, but there are questions that cast doubts on how things may unfold.
The Ravens are the team with the “mojo” right now. They remind me of the Steelers team that got rolling a few years ago and never stopped en route to the Super Bowl. Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco has been outstanding as he just doesn’t make any mistakes. The receiving corps has been great from Torrey Smith to Anquan Boldin to Dennis Pitta to Ray Rice — with Rice and Bernard Pierce running well too. Simply put, the Ravens are dangerous.
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On defense, Paul Kruger has been tremendous on the line getting to the quarterback. He did it against the Pats in Baltimore’s 31-30 Week 3 win. The return of Ray Lewis has brought an emotional boost as well.
The Patriots have plenty of firepower right now on both sides of the ball. Tom Brady just finds a way to put up points, Gronk or no Gronk.
I like the Pats defense and the way they played last weekend against Houston. Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty are playing well at corner and safety. The only problem for the Pats may be Rice out of the backfield with such a big — and somewhat slow — linebacking corps. But as a whole, they are better than Baltimore’s defense.
I will take Brady and the Pats in this one. I’m not sure if by one, three, seven, etc, but I like the Pats to move on to the Super Bowl again.
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
I guess I should feel that this game is going to be close. The Pats and the Ravens have only played close games in the past but this one I feel will be different. The Pats have to slow down the Baltimore long ball. They may get some help from the weather with that and then it’s just containing Ray Rice. I get the feeling, from the players this week, that this is something they feel extremely confident with.
They have played the Ravens enough to understand what’s at hand. So now it just comes down to who is playing better. Right now, the Pats are playing close to their best football of the season The offense, with or without Rob Gronkowski is clicking and after the gimmick comment from Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, I expect that offense to percolate at an even faster pace.
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Ray Lewis will play his heart out and the Ravens will give it all for their emotional leader but it will not be enough. Tom Brady and Belichick are 5 and 1 in championship games and this will be a 6th victory. Brady had a bad outing in last year’s AFC Championship game. On Sunday, I think he’s poised to play his best game of the year. The defense will get the turnovers when needed and Aqib Talib will become a household name. Since he’s come to the Pats, he’s answered the call of the other teams top receivers and he will continue to do so against the Ravens and Torrey Smith.
Patriots 30, Ravens 13
Tune in to the AFC Championship game at 6:30pm on Sunday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV, or LISTEN LIVE on CBSBoston.com! Pregame coverage begins on WBZ with Patriots GameDay at 11:30am, and at 3pm on 98.5 with Patriots Preview. Following the game, tune in to three hours of coverage on the Sports Hub, and to Patriots 5th Quarter over on myTV38.