Tom Brady and his team deserve every record, accolade, Super Bowl ring, super model girlfriend and MVP award that’s ever been brought back to Foxboro since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, but this year the New England Patriots are simply overrated. As I comb through their season of high scoring success, yes they put up an intimidating record of 13-3, but none of those wins were against playoff bound teams. In their matchups against playoff bound teams? Put two in the L column, as they stumbled against the Steelers and Giants, their only real competition of the year.
Give the momentum to the Pats though, they earned it with their ‘no mercy’ game play against the stumbling Broncos, but come game time it could easily shift if their 30th ranked D performs the way it did against gutted teams like the Colts and the Raiders. Each managed to throw up over 350 yards in relatively close games. The Ravens are coming off a poor showing last Sunday despite putting down the Texans, and are underdogs for just the second time this year.
While it seems safe for the Pats to be favoured, there are some unsavoury stats that put this game into question. The Ravens, a model of consistency, put up seven of their 14 wins this year against teams that made it to the playoffs. In their only other game as the underdog, an outright win was the fitting end. And while Brady is substantially better in the pocket than his counterpart Joe Flacco, Flacco ain’t no Tim Tebow so don’t expect a blowout. The Ravens had another stellar year defensively, with Top 5 finishes in passing yards per game, and rushing yards per game. This is the biggest game of Flacco’s career, and since he got there four seasons ago, now’s his ultimate chance to show Raven Nation he’s ready to bring them all the way. As for the notable Ray Rice, the oh so notable Ray Rice also drafted alongside Flacco, his stinker last week against the defensive minded Texans I can live to forget. I’m guessing he’ll rebound nicely against a defense cushier than my pillow. It’s been a long time coming, but the Ravens are here.