BOSTON (CBS) — The postseason is finally here, with the New England Patriots hosting the Baltimore Ravens Saturday night in the AFC Divisional Round.
The Patriots are the top seed in the AFC, but Baltimore has had success against New England in the postseason in recent years. Here are predictions for Saturday’s tilt from the 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio 1030 sports teams:
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
This is what we’ve been waiting for the last four weeks.
The Patriots had two weeks to get ready for this one and should start fast, which will give them a big edge early. Baltimore should fight all game long, keeping it a one possession game, but they’ll have a difficult time doing it.
The Patriots will play really good red zone defense, led by Darrelle Revis and the linebackers, and hold Baltimore to field goals.
Patriots 26, Ravens 16
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
I don’t think the Ravens can come in here and score. They may be able to get a touchdown, but won’t score more than 17 points.
Turnovers and field position will be a big factor, and not enough people are talking about special teams. That’s where the Patriots hold a big advantage.
Patriots 33, Ravens 17
Jon Wallach, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The first playoff game for the Patriots shouldn’t be a problem.
Baltimore is scary, beating the Patriots twice on their home field in the playoffs, but they should win this game, and it should be somewhat comfortable.
The defense is a big factor. Darrelle Revis will take Steve Smith out of the game, and Brandon Browner will hang on Torrey Smith with some safety help over the top.
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Everyone is healthy on offense, and most important, the offensive line is healthy. That should limit the Baltimore pass rush.
Patriots 24, Ravens 13
Rob “Hardy” Poole, 98.5 The Sports Hub
This week will be no different; I expect to have the final score be right on the money, as it has been every week I’ve been asked to do these.
Because of the cold weather, we’ll see a decrease in the number of safeties scored in this game: Only three total.
Patriots 4, Ravens 2
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
It won’t be easy, but it’s simple. The Patriots are coming off a bye, this one is in their house, and they’re healthy.
Patriots 28, Ravens 21
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
The presence of John Harbaugh, Dean Pees, Terrell Suggs and Joe Flacco makes the Ravens a scary team from the sense that they have come into New England and beaten the Patriots twice in the postseason (and came very close the third time).
However, Suggs and Haloti Ngata are the only two starters from the Ravens defense we saw in the AFC title game two years ago. And on offense, only Flacco, Torrey Smith, and Marshal Yanda are starters now.
I think Brady and the offense find a way to take advantage of a weak Ravens secondary while the Pats defense has been a strength all season.
Patriots 28, Ravens 17
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
I guess I’m getting caught in a trap. I keep hearing that the Patriots are going to lose this game and people keep throwing the Ravens’ stats in my face.
I get it, Joe Flacco has had a good postseason run as of late, but folks please!!!! This team is way different than past Ravens teams. With that said, this Pats team is different also — they are much better.
Baltimore has no Ed Reed, no Ray Rice, no Anquan Boldin, no Dennis Pitta (IR), no Ray Lewis, no Paul Kruger, no Cary Williams, no Arthur Jones and no Bernard Pollard.
The Pats have added Brandon LaFell, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Jamie Collins is now a game changer, and tight end Tim Wright has become a red zone threat. Throw in a healthy Rob Gronkowski and this may not be as close as people think.
A couple of years from now, the Indianapolis Colts are going to have the same paranoia for the Patriots and New England won’t have Brady, Wilfork, Edelman. Gronk or Collins.
I think the Pats are the better team and they’ve had a week of rest. The two times they lost to the Ravens, they were coming off game weeks. The Ravens are tough, but the Pats are tough and rested.
Patriots 28, Ravens 13
Adam Kaufman, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030
Tom Brady is 102-18 in his career in Foxborough. If you’d prefer not to get caught up in that because you believe all bets are off when focusing on one playoff game, that’s fine, but make sure you throw Joe Flacco’s much-celebrated 10-4 postseason record out the window then as well.
A week of build-up for the Patriots and Ravens will send anyone a little over the edge, especially when constantly being reminded of Baltimore’s confidence and past success at Gillette this time of the year, but these aren’t the same Pats and they aren’t the same Birds.
Rob Gronkowski is healthy, as are Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Dan Connolly. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner have solidified the defense. Unlike in recent years, Brady doesn’t have to do it all. Defense can once again win a game for this club.
Further, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, and so many others are nevermore to return. Terrell Suggs is older. The Ravens’ secondary is depleted and the club is average at eliminating the passing game.
Will this be an easy win for New England? Probably not, but it should certainly end in victory.
Patriots 34, Ravens 17
Tune in to Saturday’s Patriots-Ravens AFC Divisional Round playoff game on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 1:30pm with Patriots Preview, and stay tuned for three full hours of postgame coverage following the game.
On the TV side, tune in to a special edition of Patriots GameDay on WBZ-TV at 11:30am on Saturday, with Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38 immediately following the game.
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