The Ravens should not be able to beat the Patriots. Not on the road, and not when they are facing a future Hall of Fame quarterback playing at the peak of his abilities. Of course, the exact same thing could have been said last week, and after one of the craziest games in memory the Ravens were left standing, and Peyton Manning was left to consider what could have been. Now Baltimore needs to get their emotions in charge, reload their luck, and give it another try as we await the next chapter of their unlikely run.
This game is the sixth meeting between these teams in four years, so there are few secrets at this point. The one that stands out most is this very same game a year ago. New England won that one, 23-20, after Billy Cundiff ensured his career in Baltimore was over by missing the tying field goal with seconds left.
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Ravens at Patriots Betting Storylines
The biggest story for the Ravens for much of this year had been the play of Joe Flacco. It was lousy. He had been a major disappointment, and he helped get an offensive coordinator fired along the way. You would never guess that had been even the slightest concern, though, if the only games you had watched him play this year were the two playoff contests. He has been mostly brilliant — 613 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions in two games. The biggest pass of his season by far was the 70-yard strike in the closing seconds of regulation to send the Denver game into overtime. That pass and the subsequent win will have his confidence sky high — not that confidence has ever been an issue for Flacco. The last time he faced New England, on Sept. 23, he was also very good — 381 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception while completing 72 percent of his passes. It was one of the two or three top performances of the season for him. Given all of that, it seems as if it would be a mistake to underestimate what Flacco is capable of on Sunday.
That last meeting — in Baltimore — was a crazy one that will give the Ravens some confidence here. They won that showdown 31-30 thanks to a field goal as time expired. It was a back-and-forth affair with five lead changes in the last three quarters. Baltimore could pass well as we discussed, but Ray Rice also had a 100-yard day. A whole lot has changed since September for both teams, but the public tendency to label this game a mismatch is, at the very least, oversimplified.
The New England defense has been improving in the second half of the season. The addition of Aqib Talib has really helped, and the unit that was a liability early held five of their last six opponents to 19 or fewer points. There are still some vulnerabilities, though. Houston was not particularly sharp last week, yet they still scored 28 points and passed for 343 yards. Fifteen of those 28 points came in the fourth quarter when the game was essentially over, though, so the team may not have been at their sharpest focus. Regardless, though, the storyline of this game is Baltimore’s potent-but-inconsistent offense against New England’s decent-but-inconsistent defense. One side is likely to falter, and that is likely to be the difference in the game.
Ravens at Patriots NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Patriots favored by nine points at home. New England is the more public team overall, but thanks to the big number, the Gronkowski injury, and the Ray Lewis storyline, more than 60 percent of bets have somewhat unexpectedly come in on the Ravens. That has put some downward pressure on the line, and it can be found at 8.5 in spots now. The total opened at 51 and has climbed slightly to 51.5.
New England is a stunning 14-3 at home in playoffs — the best of any team that has played at least 10 playoff games. The underdog and the road team are both 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between the teams. Seven of New England’s last eight January games have gone over the total.
Ravens at Patriots Picks and Betting Predictions
The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. I’m fairly confident in that. This number is too high, though. Baltimore is going to be able to score, they are confident, and they are going to be ready. I hate taking an underdog that I don’t think is going to win, but at this number I have no choice. Baltimore will cover. Needless to say, the better the price you can get, the better.
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