The Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots are set to square off in NFL playoff betting action this week at Gillette Stadium. But before you make your NFL picks for the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, check out some of the great NFL betting trends that we have for the duel!
Baltimore Ravens Notes: There is only one team that is playing in its third playoff game this week, and that’s this Baltimore outfit. Give this club a lot of credit. It isn’t easy to come out of the Wild Card round of the second season and make it to a conference championship game, especially when the second game comes against the top seed in the conference. In this case, the Ravens dismissed the top seeded Denver Broncos last week in the fourth longest game in NFL history. That being said, the career of LB Ray Lewis continues to live on. The club has won and covered both of its games since Lewis announced that he was retiring at the end of this season. The club has now put up three straight wins in games that have meant anything, and that was a real switch from the three previous games, all of which ended in losses and failed attempts at covers.
It has been and up and down season for this team, but what we have seen over the course of the last two weeks has been the Baltimore team that looked to be one of the favorites to win it all at the start of the season. QB Joe Flacco is arguably playing the best football of his career. In these last two games, the only knock on him has been a relatively low completion percentage (52.6%). However, the former first round pick has thrown for 613 yards with five TDs and no picks. In fact, Flacco hasn’t thrown an interception since back in Week 15 against the team that he just beat, the Denver Broncos. RB Ray Rice has nearly 200 rushing yards in two games in the second season as well, and seemingly all of WR Torrey Smith, WR Anquan Boldin, and TE Dennis Pitta are helping in the passing game to boot. The only suspect of the team from last week’s game was the special teams, which allowed both the longest punt return and the longest kick return in the history of the NFL playoffs to WR/KR Trindon Holliday.
The Ravens aren’t exactly 100% healthy right now, but just about all of their injuries of any note have been ongoing ones that have cost the team for weeks. The only newcomer to the list to speak of is RB Bernard Pierce, who left last week’s game with a knee injury. He is expected to give it a go this week in the AFC Championship Game.
New England Patriots Notes: The Patriots have had a ton of good fortune here in the 2012-13 season. First, they were given a gift in the form of a Houston loss in Week 17 to earn them a bye in the first round of the playoffs, and then the Ravens knocked off the Broncos, changing what would have been a long road trip to Mile High into a final home game of the year. QB Tom Brady became the all-time leader for NFL playoff wins with 17, and if this game produces win No. 18, he will become the first man in NFL history to quarterback a team in six Super Bowls. The Patriots have now won 10 out of 11 games dating to back to when the team was 3-3, and it is going to have a chance to avenge one of its losses on the year now, and potentially a loss in the Super Bowl as well if the San Francisco 49ers win the NFC. New England has some problems defensive, ranking 25th in the league at 373.2 yards per game, and some of that showed last week at times against the Texans. Still, the Brady Bunch has now covered all five games that it has played against AFC playoff teams. Dating back to last year, the team is 7-1 ATS and 7-1 SU against playoff teams from in conference play.
Last week was a big one for the New England offense. This unit really didn’t even remotely try for most of the fourth quarter, yet the team still put up 41 points and over 450 yards. Brady threw for 344 yards and three TDs in a clinical performance against a team that had one of the better defenses in the AFC this year. WR Wes Welker caught eight passes for 131 yards, while RB Shane Vereen turned out to have the best day of the bunch. For a man that was used sparingly all year long, Vereen came up with 126 total yards and three total scores against Houston. RB Stevan Ridley tallied 95 total yards and a TD as well. The defense had its issues for the two and a half quarters, though the team did the job early and often in some bad situations, namely following the opening kickoff of the game, which DB Danieal Manning raced for 94 yards to set up the Texans in the scoring zone. They had to settle for three points instead of seven though, and the game was arguably never the same.
It wasn’t a great game for injuries for the Pats, though. The big loss came to TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronk had troubles with a broken forearm that he suffered in Week 11 against the Colts. The argument could be made that he raced back into the lineup far too quickly, and he reportedly broke his arm once again after falling awkwardly on it in the first quarter last week. DE Chandler Jones also left that game with an ankle injury, while RB Danny Woodhead was never a factor after banging his thumb. Jones and Woodhead are listed as probable this week though, and it seems as though both will be in the fold.
Head To Head: There are only nine meetings between these two teams since the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, and New England has won seven of the nine. The ATS proceedings though, have been far more interesting to follow. The Ravens are still a losing team from that standpoint at 3-5-1 ATS, but they do have a huge win on the road here in the playoffs from the 2010 postseason. That 33-14 victory was actually the only game in this series that saw Baltimore beaten by more than six points against the Patriots. The last three meetings have been decided by a grand total of just seven points.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.