Sunday, January 20, 2013
Poll results: Ravens or Patriots
By Jamison Hensley
Just like last week, the Ravens are a big underdog in the eyes of readers on ESPN.com.
In a SportsNation poll, 58 percent picked the Patriots to beat the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. Last week, 79 percent predicted the Broncos would top the Ravens.
For my prediction, you can click right here. Here are some selected predictions from the AFC North mailbag ...
Ian from Silver Spring, Md.: Ravens, 31-24. The Ravens have overcome adversity, and are focused for Super Bowl run in Ray Lewis' swan song season. I can't see them being disappointed again after last year's bitter taste in Foxborough.
Steve from Winchendon, Mass.: Patriots, 35-24. The Patriots will intercept at least one of Joe Flacco's passes and turn it into a touchdown. Ravens will not be able to contain the Patriots.
Harry from Melbourne, Fla.: Ravens, 38-37. The Ravens will win the turnover battle and Ray Rice will run 25-30 times. I am expecting to see Tom Brady yelling at his teammates.
Collin from Kirkwood, Mo.: Ravens, 31-24. In his last 3 AFC Championship games, Tom Brady has thrown six interceptions, three touchdowns, and posted an uncharacteristic average passer rating of 67.8. This trend will continue, while a red-hot Joe Flacco leads this inspired Ravens team into the Super Bowl with a stunner in Foxborough.
Marc from Southington, Conn.: Patriots, 31-17. Belichick will scheme to stop Ray Rice's running and prevent Joe Flacco's deep threat, essentially crippling Baltimore's offense. Brady and company will pick apart the Ravens defense, exploiting their aging linebacker group to move the ball and score at will.
Stan from Hunt Valley, Md.: Ravens, 27-24. The Ravens complete the trifecta of exorcising their demons: Indianapolis, Manning and Brady. Unlike Billy Cundiff, Justin Tucker comes through as the gun sounds.
Daniel from Vale, N.C.: Ravens, 27-24. Justin Tucker comes up big again and Torry Smith burns the New England secondary.
Kenn from St. Louis: Patriots 41-27. Brady has something to prove. He's better than Flacco. No last-second heroics this week.
Dan from Gettysburg, Pa.: Ravens, 28-24. Ed Reed intercepts a Ray Lewis tipped pass from Tom Brady, and Reed is escorted in the end zone by Lewis.
Keith from Easton, Mass.: Patriots, 24-17. It will be close until the fourth quarter when the Ravens are gassed. Brandon Loyd finally goes long for a touchdown.
Justin from Westminster, Md.: Ravens, 27-24. The Ravens will win because Joe Flacco will throw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Tom Brady will make mistakes that cost them the game.
Corey from Delray Beach, Fla.: Ravens, 31-27. The Ravens are arguably the hottest team out of the four teams remaining. With Ray Lewis retiring, the swag is back in Baltimore. Not to mention, Flacco has out played Brady in three out of the last four meetings.
Darryl from Glen Burnie, Md.: Ravens, 27-24. The Ravens win because of the playcalling of offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and the revamped offensive line gives Flacco time to throw to Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta.
Tad from Houston: Ravens, 31-28. Ray Rice runs for over 100 yards and a touchdown, and Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith catch one each. Tom Brady gets intercepted twice, once for a touchdown and Justin Tucker hits the game-winner that Billy Cundiff couldn't for the ultimate justice from last year.
Pat from Columbia, Md.: Ravens, 28-24. Both quarterbacks play great. The key will be Jacoby Jones who will have a great kickoff reutrn that will either be a touchdown or result in great field position.
Brian from Dover, Del.: Patriots, 34-20. Baltimore's defense won't be able to keep up with the Patriots' receivers. The Ravens will fall behind early, taking Rice out of the game and forcing Flacco into two interceptions.
Andrew from Baltimore: Ravens, 31-30. As with the Broncos game, the Ravens will to score and hold the Patriots to field goals. Here, the Ravens score five times to the Patriots' six times, but field goals make the difference.
James from Catonsville: Ravens, 30-27. Flacco outperforms Brady. Tucker kicks last minute or overtime winner.
Tom from Baltimore: Ravens, 21-20. This one's lower scoring than everyone thinks as the Patriots slow down their usually up-tempo offense to exploit mismatches with the Ravens defense. The Patriots produce more scoring opportunities, but end up only with field goals on two drives against the Ravens stout red zone defense while the Ravens make the most of their chances with touchdowns.
Steve from Upperco, Md.: Ravens, 34-24. The Ravens are focused and playing championship-caliber football. It will be a tough task against proven winners in the Pats, but Joe Flacco is different now. Ray Lewis said so last week and I believe.
Jordan from Baltimore: Ravens, 30-27. The Patriots will miss a very important field goal in the third quater and Tucker will hit one early in the fourth that will start a Ravens' comeback. Flacco throws a bomb to Torrey Smith to take the lead later in the fourth.
Jeff from Medford, N.J.: Ravens, 37-31. It will be back and forth, the Ravens will have a 30-28 lead with seven or eight minutes to go and the Patriots will drive but only get a field goal. The Ravens will drive down the field and score a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining on the clock and then Ed Reed or Ray Lewis will intercept Tom Brady to ice the game.