The New England Patriots have had a difficult time with the Baltimore Ravens in playoff action, to say the least. In fact, Baltimore has covered the last three times these teams have met in postseason play at Gillette Stadium, winning the last two. So there is no question about the fact that New England is fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead as these teams meet up in NFL betting action in the AFC Divisional Round at 4:35 PM ET.
Just two seasons ago, Baltimore went up to Foxborough and hung a 28-13 loss on the Pats, then went on to win the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers. This season, the Ravens had the look of a fringe contender for much of the schedule, and frankly, they did not really gather a full head of steam, as they only had one winning streak of as many as three games. But as far as most people are concerned, they served notice that they are going to be a lot of trouble for the Patriots again with the 30-17 win at Pittsburgh last week.
While this may be a Baltimore team that knows the path to the Big Game, New England is a bit of a different team than it was two seasons ago. And having to pass what many consider to be a “character test,” their supporters believe they may have been the league’s best team over the last 12 games of the year.
One thing Baltimore did not have to face last week was an outstanding rushing game. The knee injury to Le’Veon Bell took care of that. And in that way the Ravens were somewhat fortunate. The guy who would have been filling in for Bell in that game, and might have made a difference, is now a member of the Patriots. LeGarrette Blount, who has had big performances in the postseason before, is now a part of the deep Patriot backfield, and you get the feeling that coach Bill Belichick brought him on board for just this kind of situation. Blount is the kind of physical runner who could possibly penetrate the Baltimore front seven, which gave up only 3.6 yards per carry this season.
New England’s offense turned the ball over only 12 times this year, and only Brady (who has been sacked just 24 times) has lost a fumble. So this team is extra careful when they have the ball. The Patriots also ranked third in the league in points per drive (2.49), first in yards per point (12.5) and second best in starting line of scrimmage. Stephen Gotkowski has been almost perfect on his field goal attempts (35 out of 37). And the defense should not be overlooked; New England has allowed just 59.6% completions, which is pretty damn good in this era of pass-happy football. And of the last time they faced Joe Flacco, they intercepted him three times in a 41-7 victory.
NFL PLAYOFF RELEASES 01/10/15