4* AFC Championship SMASH
Baltimore vs. New England,
01/22/2012 15:00 EDT,
Score: 20 - 23
Point Spread: +9/-125 Baltimore
4* AFC Championship SMASH on Ravens +9
The Patriots got whatever they wanted against the Broncos last week, but that won't be the case against the Ravens, who finished the regular season ranked third in both total and scoring defense with 288.9 yards and 16.6 points allowed per game.
I'm not blindly giving the edge to Baltimore's defense in this matchup, I'm doing so because the Ravens have proven themselves against the Pats.
Baltimore held the New England to 196 yards while forcing 4 turnovers in a 33-14 win at Gillette Stadium in the 2010 playoffs. In fact, the Ravens have held the Patriots to an average of 308 yards while either winning or losing by 6 points or less in each of the last 4 matchups. With the number at 7 points or higher everywhere, this creates a 100 percent trend I won't hesitate to get behind.
The Baltimore offense doesn't have to be great Sunday, but I expect it to be good enough against a New England defense that finished the regular season ranked 31st in the NFL with 411.1 yards allowed per game.
The Pats had a lot of success against Tim Tebow last week but certainly benefited from having already seen him once this season. Joe Flacco is way better than Tebow. He connected on 14 of 27 passes for 176 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions last week while facing one of the best defenses in the NFL. Another efficient performance like that could certainly land the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
Patriots are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 playoff games and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 playoff games as a favorite. Look for Baltimore to give Tom Brady and company all they can handle Sunday.