AFC Championship Game preview
The AFC Divisional games failed to provide an upset as the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots both advanced to the AFC Championship Game. The number 2 seed Ravens will be on the road against the number 1 seed Patriots, who are 8-1 at home this season. Both teams will be looking to win this game to advance to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
The Ravens are coming off a 20-13 victory over the Houston Texans. The Ravens defense had a great game forcing 3 interceptions and looked to be as dominate as ever whilst led by veterans Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. The Ravens offense didn’t have such a great game. Quarterback Joe Flacco struggled at times against the Texans defense and finished the game 14/27 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Running Back Ray Rice also struggled on the ground and finished with just 60 yards rushing.
The Ravens offense must improve if they are to have any chance of getting a win in this one. Expect to see more of Ray Rice in this game as the Ravens will look to run the ball more against the Patriots poor defense. Quarterback Joe Flacco must also step up and find his receivers more often as Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Lee Evans combined for just six catches against Houston.
The Patriots are coming off an impressive 45-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Tom Brady tied the NFL Playoff record by throwing for six touchdowns, three of which went to tight end Rob Gronkowski. At 6 foot 6 inches and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is a mismatch for almost every defense.
The problem that defenses are faced with in Gronkowski is: Who do we have that can cover him? Typically, tight ends are covered by either safeties or linebackers but Gronkowski is usually too big for any safety to cover and to fast for any linebacker to cover. This will be a tough test for the Ravens defense and they should look to Ed Reed to cover Gronkowski on deep routes and perhaps Ray Lewis on the shorter/intermediate routes. The Ravens will also have their hands full with the Patriots other tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Can Joe Flacco reach his first Super Bowl? Can Tom Brady reach his fifth Super Bowl? Let’s get to the prediction.
2. Baltimore Ravens at 1. New England Patriots
Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough.
Day, time and channel: Sunday 7:30pm Sky Sports 2
Players to watch out for: Ravens- RB Ray Rice, MLB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed
Players to watch out for: Patriots- QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, DT Vince Wilfork
Prediction: Tom Brady gets the better of Joe Flacco and leads the Pats to victory. Ravens 19 Patriots 23
This would mean the Patriots would win the AFC and advance to Super Bowl XLVI to play the winners of the NFC.
So that’s the preview for the AFC Championship Game, now onto the NFC Championship Game.