Preview: Ravens at Patriots

Unlike in the NFC, where the top seed team choked, the AFC championship game features the two teams expected to battle for a trip to the Super Bowl.

It's pretty obvious that the Patriots are bringing the better offense, and the Ravens are bringing the better defense.

Last week, I thought the key for the Ravens was having good Joe Flacco show up. While he wasn't bad (2 TDs, 0 INTs), he wasn't very good either (14 of 27 for 176 yards). Ray Rice didn't impress last week either. However, the Texans defensive line was killing the Ravens offensive line, and neither Flacco and Rice could do much about it. On the other hand, the Patriots defense will not be confused for the Texans defense. The Ravens problems last week in pass protection and run blocking should diminish. Football Outsiders ranks the Ravens offense at a respectable 13th overall, which should be more successful than the Broncos were against arguably the worst defense in the NFL.

While the Patriots offense is one of the best, the Ravens defense is arguably the best. I'm not expecting Tom Brady to throw for six touchdowns again this week. This is going to be one of the top match-ups of the playoffs.

I would expect the more balanced Ravens, assuming they avoid penalties and turnovers, to win in Foxboro. However, the Patriots offense is so good that it could still put enough points on the board to win. I'm on the fence here. Maybe the Patriots will win but the Ravens will cover.

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