by Kennedy Ross
Cold Hard, Football Facts AFC East Overlord (@FNscribeNY)
This AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots have two equally important angles to it. Statistically, this is going to be a classic game; high powered offense verses hardcore defense.
The patriots are ranked 7th in OPR, 5th in QBR, and 1st in OHI. That means they are really freaking good on offense. How good are they? It was not too long ago that they were on pace to score just under 600 points this season. They as much as anyone have taken advantage of the rule changes in the passing game.
Baltimore on the other hand is ranked 11th in DQBR, DPR and 8th in DHI. They are a seasoned defense (or old if you wanna be mean about it). They are playing as hard as any team in the league. But they have a not so secret weapon lurking around in a "Beyond Thunderdome" mask.
Inside linebacker Ray Lewis is on his farewell tour, but he just doesn't seem to want to say goodbye just yet. Lewis has been leading his team and quite frankly any team on the field with him in tackles. Now more than ever, Lewis is the emotional leader of not only the defense but of the whole team.
All of his teammates want to see him go out on top. That means they have to top the Patriots first in order to do that.
It's also no secret that the Ravens believe they, not the Patriots, should have won last years AFC Championship game. The Patriots won that game 23-20 thanks to a mind blowing 32-yard missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.
The Patriots are hoping Cundiff sells out the 49er's this year in the NFC Championship game so they wo't have to face them again in the Super Bowl.
So between revenge and the ultimate retirement party for Ray Lewis, the Ravens are soaked with motivation to come into New England and leave their guts on the floor if they have to. The only question is did they leave to much of their guts on the field back in Denver? After a knock-down, drag-out battle in freezing, thin overtime air, will the Ravens have enough to contend with the myriad of Patriots weapons?
As noted earlier this week, Rob Gronkowski will not be available for the rest of the playoffs. Aaron Hernandez has been doing a good job in his stead, but it just aint "The Gronk".
But if any team in the NFL can mix and match a winning team, it's the Patriots. They make it back to the big show. Thanks for everything Ray.