The New England Patriots are the number one seed entering the Divisional Round. After a bye week, the number one seed pairs with the lowest remaining seed. That team is the Baltimore Ravens. Out of all the teams in the AFC Playoffs, the Ravens are the last team the Patriots would want to play. In Foxborough, the Patriots adorn a certain mystique that intimidates their opponents. At home, they are truly a difficult opponent. The Ravens, however, are the only team in the playoffs that has been successful against the Patriots.
The Baltimore Ravens backed into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. In their Wild Card matchup against division rival Pittsburgh, the Ravens dominated the Steelers earning a trip to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Raven’s head coach, John Harbaugh, has been successful against the Patriots in the playoffs winning twice in Foxborough. Their last victory was in 2012 on their way to a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers. While the Ravens have excelled on the road, especially in Foxborough in the playoffs, these two rosters are dramatically different from past seasons.
Patriots Vs Ravens Divisional Round Odds
Here are the odds from Betonline.ag
Ravens +7 (-116)
Patriots -7 (-104)
Patriots: In week 17 of the regular season, Patriots fans were left with a lot to desire. For one thing, having already punched their ticket to the playoffs and a first round bye, the Patriots had nothing to play for and rightly decided to rest players. Brady and a lot of the starters sat at half time for what ended up being a home loss to the Buffalo Bills. The offense-line struggled against a strong Buffalo Bills pass-rush. Belichick sat offensive players like Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Going into Saturday’s matchup against the Ravens, the Patriots will have their key players ready and rested. The Patriots offensive-line will face a Ravens’ pass-rush that is both fast and physical. The Patriots will need to watch out for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Brady will need to have an exceptionally fast release to avoid being sacked. The offensive-line will only allow Brady so much time against an elite defensive group like the Ravens. If the Patriots are not able to protect Brady and limit the quarterback pressure, then the Patriots will struggle to put anything together offensively. To overcome this issue, the Patriots will need to utilize an up-tempo style offense. The Patriots will need to stretch the defensive-line of the Ravens laterally with the run game. The Patriots must wear down the Ravens defensive-line over the course of the game to help alleviate pressure on Brady and the passing game. If the Ravens are overly aggressive early, expect the Patriots to throw a lot of screen-passes to tight-ends and wide-receivers, as well as running-backs.
Ravens: Joe Flacco has one of the best deep balls in the NFL. Under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, the Ravens have complimented Flacco with a shifty running-game anchored by journeyman Justin Forsett. The Ravens offense is both methodical and has a lot of big play potential. Wide-receivers Steve Smith and Torrey Smith are excellent deep threats for Joe Flacco. Against a strong New England secondary, expect the Ravens to take their shots early. If Brandon Browner, the bruising New England corner, matches up with either Smith, expect Flacco to take a chance deep. Torrey Smith is a defensive pass-interference wizard, and Browner is one of the most penalized defenders in the league. This is a key matchup to keep an eye on in the game. The Ravens know that one of the Patriots weaknesses is defending tight-ends. Owen Daniels is a great pass catching tight-end and will certainly have an impact on this game.
The national perspective is that the Ravens match up perfectly to play the Patriots. The previous success in Foxborough has a lot to do with it, but Tom Brady’s kryptonite has always been pressure up the middle. The Ravens’ front seven has given the depleted secondary help by not allowing the quarterback time to find the open man. The speed of the pass-rush will certainly get to Tom Brady at some point in the game. The biggest question mark is the offensive-line. How will Dan Connolly and the rest of the Patriots’ offensive-line respond to the pressure? With a healthy Rob Gronkowski as an extra blocker, the Patriots will have to find a way to negate the Ravens’ greatest strength. This game will come down to in-game adjustments. Kyle Arrington is better equipped to cover Torrey Smith on the outside. Browner matches up better with tight-end Owen Daniels inside. Whether this happens at the beginning of the game or is a midway adjustment, these matchups will have huge implications on the final score. This is a different Patriots team than the 2012 and 2009 teams that came up short. This Patriots team has a truly elite defense. For the Ravens, while their defense has played well despite their deficiencies in the secondary, Ray Lewis is not walking down that tunnel. Expect the Patriots to pull off the victory and advance to the AFC Championship game.
New England Patriots 26 Baltimore Ravens 16