Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots-Predictions-AFC Championship-Free Picks

January 22, 2012

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Baltimore at New England When: 3:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 22, 2012 Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

THE STORY: Tom Brady and Joe Flacco will have a similar mindset when they lead their teams into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Foxborough. Mass. Both quarterbacks have plenty of reason to be wary of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense. While Brady is focused on guiding the host New England Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 seasons, Flacco will be trying to maintain his focus after he was criticized by teammate Ed Reed earlier this week for his play in Baltimore’s 20-13 AFC divisional win over the Houston Texans last weekend. Pro Bowl safety Reed, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, said Flacco was “kind of rattled” by Houston’s defense and “didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense.” That’s not exactly of inspiration needed when going up against Brady, who threw for six touchdowns and guided an offense that produced a franchise playoff-record 45 points in last week’s rout of Denver. New England has won all six regular-season matchups between the teams, but the Ravens clobbered the Patriots 33-14 in a playoff game in Foxborough in January 2010.

TV: CBS, 3 p.m. ET. LINE: Patriots -7, O/U 50.5

ABOUT THE RAVENS (13-4): The much-maligned Flacco can become the first QB to win 50 games in his first four seasons. He threw two first-quarter TD passes as the Ravens jumped to a 17-3 lead and held off the Texans. Baltimore’s defense, which ranked third in the league with an average of 16.6 points allowed, forced four turnovers but did not have a sack after leading the AFC with 48 in the regular season. The Ravens need to get RB Ray Rice untracked. He was held to only 60 yards on 21 carries after rushing for 1,364 yards and 12 TDs and leading the league with 2,068 yards from scrimmage. Rice rumbled for 159 yards and two TDs, including an 83-yard scoring run just 17 seconds into the game in Baltimore’s playoff rout of the Patriots two years ago.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (14-3): Brady threw for 363 yards and tied a postseason record with his six TD passes in the 45-10 mauling of Denver. Brady, who sat out Wednesday’s practice with a sore left shoulder, was not sacked in guiding New England to its ninth consecutive victory. Second-year TE Rob Gronkowski hauled in three of Brady’s five first-half scoring passes and finished with 10 receptions for 145 yards. Gronkowski set league records for TDs (17) and receiving yards (1,327) by a tight end this season. Fellow TE Aaron Hernandez had four receptions and added a wrinkle with five rushes for a team-high 61 yards last week. Despite building a 35-7 halftime lead, the Patriots got little out of their ground game. New England’s defense ranked 31st in the league during the regular season, surrendering 411.1 yards per game.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The last three regular-season meetings between the teams have been decided by a total of 12 points.

2. Baltimore was only 4-4 on the road this season, including a 34-14 drubbing at San Diego in which it looked powerless to stop the passing game.

3. Brady can tie Joe Montana for the most wins (16) in playoff history, and can combine with Bill Belichick to become the first QB-coach tandem to reach five Super Bowls.

 

Current streak:
Baltimore has won 3 straight games.
New England has won 9 straight games.

Team records:
Baltimore: 12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS
New England: 13-3 SU, 9-6-1 ATS

Baltimore most recently:
When playing in January are 7-3
When playing on turf are 9-1
After being outgained are 9-1
When playing outside the division are 7-3

New England most recently:
When playing in January are 6-4
When playing on turf are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 9-1
When playing outside the division are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
Baltimore is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Baltimore’s last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Baltimore’s last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Baltimore’s last 6 games when playing on the road against New England
New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of New England’s last 5 games
New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
New England is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing Baltimore


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