Pointspread: New England -7.5
Total line: 50.5
The two best teams this season in the AFC will square-off this Sunday for a trip to Super Bowl XLVI when the No.2 seed Baltimore Ravens face the No.1 seed New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in this season’s conference championship game. The kick-off is slated for 3 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
In typical fashion, Baltimore grinded-out a 20-13 victory over Houston in Sunday’s Divisional Round, but failed to cover the spread as a 7.5-point home favorite. It is now 13-4 straight-up, but 8-8-1 against the spread in 17 games this season. The Ravens went 4-4 SU (6-2 ATS) on the road and the total went ‘over’ in six of the eight games.
Baltimore’s formula for success continues to revolve around a defense that creates turnovers and makes big plays, while its offense tries to simply manage the game. This has worked like a charm so far, but you get the feeling that Joe Flacco and the passing game will have to make something happen to win this game.
There is no question that Tom Brady and the New England offense can make things happen after making a huge statement in last Saturday night’s other AFC Divisional game. This one was over by halftime as the Patriots rolled to a 45-10 victory over Denver as 14-point home favorites. They are now 8-1 SU at home this season and 5-4 ATS. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of the nine games.
While Brady torched the Broncos for 363 passing yards and six touchdowns, it was New England’s much-maligned defense that made the biggest statement by giving-up a total of just 252 yards of total offense after finishing the regular season ranked 31st in the NFL in total yards allowed.
The Ravens are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against the AFC and 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games played in January. The total has stayed ‘under’ in seven of their last 10 games in the postseason.
The Patriots are 5-2 in their last seven games against the AFC, but just 1-5 ATS in their last six postseason games at home. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 11 of their last 17 home playoff games.
The home team in this series is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings. Baltimore is 1-3-2 ATS in its last six trips to Gillette Stadium and the total has gone ‘over’ in three of the last four games overall.
Two years ago in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Ravens stunned the Patriots 33-14 as 3.5-point road underdogs, but do not expect the same result this time around as Brady and Co. trump Ray Lewis’s Ravens’ defense with another unstoppable performance.
The Free NFL Pick: New England 27 Baltimore 17
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.