Baltimore and New England have developed quite a rivalry over the last decade and as they get set to renew their hatred on Sunday, the trash talk has already started in the media. The Ravens won the first meeting of the regular season by a score of 31-30 at home in Week 3 but they still come into the AFC title game as huge NFL betting underdogs on the road in Foxborough.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Sunday, January 20th – 6:30 PM ET
NFL Betting Odds: Falcons -3
How The Ravens Can Win
The Ravens’ defense has been inspired by the impending retirement of Ray Lewis and they made plays when they had to in a 38-35 double-overtime win in Denver, but the key to their run has been Joe Flacco, who has thrown five touchdowns and no picks in the postseason so far. Everyone knows the Ravens’ defense is going to do what they do, but Flacco’s ability to come up big in important games has been questioned. He outdueled Denver’s Peyton Manning on the road in Denver, and now Flacco will have to go to New England and do the same against Tom Brady, whom the Ravens need to beat up on defense in order to advance to the Super Bowl.
How The Patriots Can Win
The Patriots’ offense is a machine with Brady at the helm, but their defense has to avoid the big play against the Ravens, who have shown they can go deep all season. Baltimore can stretch the field with Torrey Smith, which gives Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice the chance to dominate underneath and New England’s secondary is suspect, at best. The Ravens have also shown they can win a shootout against the Patriots, but New England is also excellent at home and the Patriots will have to use that homefield advantage, although the spread may be a bit too large.
Outlook & Pick
New England is favored by nine points at home, and even though they’re a great team at Gillette Stadium, nine points is a lot against a team like Baltimore, who has all the momentum. The Ravens have lost eight of their last 10 against the Patriots, but they’ve managed to cover five times with a couple of pushes, and they won 33-14 in the playoffs in New England in 2010, so it isn’t like the Ravens are scared to go to Foxborough. Their two straight-up wins against the Patriots have come in the last four meetings and if you combine all that with the Lewis-retirement factor, everything is lining up for a tremendous “upset” on Sunday night. The Ravens are going to at least keep this close enough to cover and if they’re within three points going into the fourth quarter, all bets are off and anything can happen. This is going to be a hard-hitting battle with lots of post-whistle action and that favors Baltimore on the road. Take them on the NFL spread.
Pick: Ravens +9