Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 1/16/12

The Baltimore Ravens will travel to Foxboro, Massachusetts next Sunday to play the New England Patriots at 3PM EST on CBS. The Ravens will be coming off a one-touchdown 20-13 win over the Houston Texans in the first NFL playoff game on Sunday. The Patriots demolished the Denver Broncos at home Saturday night by a score of 45-10. The Super Bowl is just one win away for the Patriots, but the Ravens are not going to go quietly.

New England Quarterback Tom Brady (40-611, 5,235 yards, 39 TDS, 12 INTs) wins the quarterback battle against Baltimore's Joe Flacco (312-542, 3,610 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs) any way you slice it. 20 points won't be enough against the Patirots. Baltimore is a defensive juggernaut with a mediocre offense, pretty much the oposite of New England.

Joe Flacco has Ray Rice churning up yards to keep the heat off him when he decides to pass, but he also has his other brother Ray on Defense: Ray Lewis. Baltimore will have to play a defensive gem to beat the Patriots. They will have to win the turnover game, rush, hurry, or hit Brady on every down, and maybe even score on a pick 6 or two.

The Patriots had a shaky season getting their lackluster defense in gear for the playoffs, but they ended the year on a winning streak. They finished the season at third in the league for average points scored (32.1), second in average total yards per game (428) and second in average passing yards per game (317.8). Their only weakness on offense is the running game, which still ranked 20th in the league with just over 100 yards per game on the ground on average. Meanwhile the defense is improving rapidly. Though Brady threw a record 6 touchdown passes, the defense sacked Tim Tebow 5 times and forced a fumble Saturday night. They stuffed the Broncos for more than a dozen negative plays.

The Baltimore offense will have to rely on Ray Rice (291 carries, 1,364 yards, 12 TDs, 76 receptions, 704 yards, 3 TDs) to put up big numbers against the Patriots. Rice and his team rank 10th in the league in rushing, and a dominant rushing game is paramount next Sunday if the Ravens want to win. If the Ravens defense can slow down Tom Brady and his battery of amazing receivers and tight ends, it could be a close game.

The Patriots will win by at least 10 points Sunday, and their offense will carry the day. The defense will plug the biggest holes Rice has to run through, and the Ravens will have trouble breaking the plane of the goal line. Flacco will throw an interception or two, and Rob Gronkowski will be a big factor in more ways than one. Brady will be cool under pressure and let his running backs try to churn up more yardage than usual. Knowing the New York Giants could be in the Super Bowl with them is a great incentive for the Patriots to fight for a potential rematch of a game they'd really like to forget, one that cost the team their perfect record.

Article written by: Rich Bergeron

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