Wild Card: Ravens vs Patriots Preview


Opening Thoughts
They got here.  It wasn’t easy, and they needed so much help over the course of the last four weeks, but it happened, and they have the chance to play for a Super Bowl.  After all that, they get possibly the worst matchup they could imagine.  Against Tom Brady’s Patriots in Foxborough.  Then, a few things started going right for them.  All of their stars (Suggs, Reed, Mason) have gotten healthy and are probable today, and the Pats lost their top receiver to a freak injury (Wes Welker).  It’ll be important that the Ravens limit penalties and take every opportunity they get, because the Patriots simply do not lose at home in the playoffs.  They need to make field goals, and limit pass interference penalties (cough…Matt Katula and Frank Walker).  This is a huge opportunity.  The team is good enough to beat anybody that they go up against, now they need to show it.

Key Matchups
Ravens Pass Rush vs Tom Brady: It’s happened several times that when Brady gets pressure on him, he doesn’t play as well and makes mistakes.  If Trevor Pryce, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata (and others) can flush him out of the pocket, and knock him down, it will help neutralize Super Tom’s power.

Patriots Receivers vs Ravens DBs: There have been way too many pass interference penalties, and blow assignments, and times where certain guys (Frank Walker) have gotten beat this season.  Even with Wes Welker out, the secondary still has a very tough time in containing Randy Moss and Welker’s replacement, Julian Edelman.  Remember that Welker didn’t play against the Ravens in their previous regular season matchup in Foxborough.

Injury Report
OUT: None.
DOUBTFUL: Matt Connoly (OT, NE)
QUESTIONABLE: None.
PROBABLE: There’s 21 players probable.  Here’s the important ones: New England: Tom Brady, Randy Moss, DT Vince Wilfork, Julian Edelman, CB Shaun Springs
Baltimore: Joe Flacco, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Haloti Ngata, Matt Katula, Trevor Pryce

Prediction
I have no idea.  I’m just predicting that it will be a game with lots of lead changes, and hopefully the Ravens can take the last one.

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