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TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 3: New England Patriots At Baltimore Ravens

Patriots
Ravens
(credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
(credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner The Patriots are coming off a stunning home loss to the Arizona Cardinals and while Tom Brady turned it on in the fourth quarter and gave the Patriots a chance to tie the game, he was under pressure throughout the game. He is an accurate passer and he will be put to the test in this game.
Joe Flacco has been climbing the charts in the NFL. He outplayed Brady in last year’s AFC championship, but the Ravens came up short in that game. Flacco has a big arm and can make all the plays needed to win this game.
Offense
Wes Welker has been a vital part of the Patriots offense but he has not been a big part of the Patriots game plan through the first two games. Welker may play a bigger role in this game since Aaron Hernandez injured his ankle. Brady will try to get the ball to Rob Gronkowski frequently.
Winner The Ravens may have come up on the short end against Philadelphia, but they have a powerful offense. Start with running back Ray Rice, who can run inside or outside. Anquan Boldin can get open on third downs and speedy Torrey Smith can stretch the defense.
Defense
The Patriots knew their defense was not very good last year and they still made it to the Super Bowl. There are still plenty of weaknesses but they appear much improved at stopping the run. Linebacker Jerrod Mayo has plenty of speed and had nine tackles vs. Arizona.
Winner The Ravens may not be the dominant defense they once were, but they can still punish opponents and they will test Brady. The Ravens still depend on Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but cornerback Ladarius Webb is solid in coverage and superior tackler.
Special Teams
The Patriots have been the beneficiaries of excellent placekicking for more than a decade, but Stephen Gostkowski’s miss kept them from beating the Cardinals in Week Two.
Winner The Ravens know the pain of missing a last-second field goal. New placekicker Justin Tucker was 3-of-3 in the loss to the Eagles, including a 56-yarder. Punter Sam Koch averaged 50.2 yards on five punts in that game.

The Winner Is

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Winner Ravens
3 out of 4

This is a game that the Ravens have circled on their calendar since they fell short against the Pats in the AFC Championship game last January. The Ravens not only are playing with revenge in mind, they are getting stronger while the Pats have some weaknesses.

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