There is something about the New England Patriots that just seems to attract controversy. There are certainly a lot of “haters” out there who believe Bill Belichick is always trying to do something to cheat them. The New England coach undoubtedly feeds on that kind of paranoia, and he offered plenty of fuel to the fire last week as the Patriots scored a 35-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. It is this kind of resourcefulness that often gives this team a built-in edge, and they might just put that to work in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. NFL betting action gets underway at 6:40 PM ET on CBS from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.
Running back Shane Vereen lined up on several plays and declared himself ineligible to receive a pass from the referee. In effect, he was an offensive lineman. But the Ravens were confused at the line of scrimmage and did not know who to cover. After the game, Coach John Harbaugh cried foul, but the truth is that it was just a very effective piece of strategy from Belichick. It also did not hurt the New England cause that Baltimore converted only one of nine first third-down opportunities. In a tight game, that might have made a lot of difference.
This will be the ninth conference championship game for the combination of Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, and you just can’t underestimate that kind of experience, especially as Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck will be making his first appearance ever in the AFC title game.
Although he is available for this game, Gray has been bothered by ankle injuries of late. But no worries, as far as the Patriots are concerned; LeGarrette Blount, who gained 166 yards in that playoff game last year, is available and fresh. He is also back in Belichick’s camp, after leaving for Pittsburgh, then getting released (yes, the Steelers wished they had him two weeks ago against Baltimore). So there is every reason to expect that New England could have a continuation of its dominance at the line of scrimmage, where it has outgained the Colts 480-88 in rushing in these last two encounters.
Meanwhile, America’s Bookie patrons know that there is a big disparity in terms of the turnover situation. The Patriots come into this game at +13 in the turnover ratio, while Indianapolis is at minus-6, which was the worst figure for any playoff team. And Luck, who has something of a reputation as a gunslinger, was intercepted four times in last year’s postseason meeting. New England would appear to have the right kind of formula to advance at this stage of the season.