For the 4th time in six years Tom Brady and Joe Flacco will go head-to-head in the playoffs.
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Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens head to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.
These two teams are very familiar with each other in the playoffs: In the 2009-10 playoffs the Ravens upset the Patriots in the Wildcard round, dealing the Patriots their first home playoff loss in years. The Patriots would get their revenge in the 2011-12 AFC Championship game, beating the Ravens after WR Lee Evans dropped a TD pass in the endzone and PK Billy Cundiff missed a potential game-tying FG. But the Baltimore Ravens had the last laugh in the 2012-13 AFC Championship game, beating the Patriots in their own stadium and advancing to Superbowl XLVII, where they beat the San Francisco 49ers to win their second Superbowl title.
The Ravens are coming off an upset road Wildcard win over their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. QB Joe Flacco earned his 10th career playoff win, and has now won five in a row since 2012. But with an offense that has struggled to turn the switch on in some cases – losing to the Houston Texans and barely beating the Cleveland Browns in the final two weeks of the season – the Ravens will need a big game from QB Joe Flacco. Unfortunately for the Ravens, they may not have starting OT Eugene Monroe for the game, who is recovering from a leg injury. Without Monroe the Ravens could very likely struggle to establish the run with RB Justin Forsett.
For the seventh straight season the Patriots are hosting a playoff game. Although their recent playoff record may indicate vulnerability, this year’s Patriots team has arguably the best defense the team has had in a decade or more – with CBs Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner giving a shot in the arm to a defensive unit that in the past had struggled against the pass. In addition, the Patriots offense is almost completely injury-free with TE Rob Gronkowski, WRs Danny Amendola, Tim Wright, Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman giving much-appreciated help to Tom Brady, who was able to put up some incredible numbers in 2014. The Patriots have just about every advantage in this game.
Prediction: New England Patriots win the Divisional Round – Home field advantage plus freezing cold temperatures plus a great defense plus a near-unstoppable offense equal a win for the Patriots over just about any opponent. Outside of the Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers there is no team in the league that can do what the Patriots do at home – which means it will take a neutral field to finally end the Patriots. But since it will take weeks for the Patriots to reach a neutral field, for now they’ll have to settle for a win over Baltimore.