Championship Weekend Matchup Predictions
I never like to say that teams win based on luck, because I don't believe that is ever the case (or that it is extremely rarely the case), but a lot of things went the Ravens' way last weekend. The Broncos' offense became far too conservative towards the end of the game, allowing the Ravens to come back. The refs missed an easy pass interference call that resulted in a Ravens' defensive touchdown. Rahim Moore, for lack of a better term, completely brain farted to allow Jacoby Jones to score the game-tying touchdown. Finally, Peyton Manning made his most un-Peyton play of the year, throwing across his body into the hands of a Ravens player for a crippling interception.
The fact of the matter is, the Ravens won that game fair and square - they were better than the Broncos on that day. The plays that Rahim Moore and Peyton Manning made were the difference, and if you can't step up in those moments, you don't deserve to win. However, I don't think the Patriots' players will mess up in those situations. Tom Brady is not going to throw across his body to give his opponent the ball ten yards from field goal position in overtime. Bill Belichick is not going to abandon his aggressive offensive style when his team is up by a touchdown. Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory aren't going to completely misjudge an under-thrown deep ball.
The Patriots have the best offense in the NFL, and they are loaded with players who have experienced and been victorious in Championship Round games. I like their firepower, ball control, and ability to force turnovers over a wild card Joe Flacco backed by an overrated defense. I'll give the Ravens credit, however, for their recent success. A few weeks ago, I'd have this game pegged as a borderline blowout (yes, even though the Ravens beat the Patriots in Week 3), but now I think this will be a good game - maybe even a great game.
Patriots win 34-30.