Much like Patriots, Ravens are peaking at the right time
While film of the last two meetings between the Patriots and Ravens will undoubtedly be watched, neither game will mean a whole lot come Sunday.
This is the Patriots looking to return to the Super Bowl and win that elusive fourth one. This is the Ravens looking to prove everybody wrong and ride the momentum of Ray Lewis’ retirement party all the way to New Orleans.
One thing is clear: Both teams deserve to be here.
The Ravens aren’t “beat up on defense, and underwhelming on offense” this postseason. Joe Flacco leads all NFL postseason QBs with a 120.0 QB rating. Ray Rice is second in rushing yards with 199 in two games. Anquan Boldin is first in receiving yards at 216. Ray Lewis is first in tackles at 30, with two other Ravens holding down the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Paul Kruger and Terrell Suggs rank in the top five in sacks, while Corey Graham is tied for first with two picks – both against Peyton Manning.
Often times it’s the hottest team – not the best – that goes on to win the Super Bowl. See: New York Giants.
New England is hot too. Their talent is well-documented around these parts. And as they’ve done each and every game this season, they’ll take the opponent seriously.
“They have some great receivers over there, guys with speed,” Patriots safety Steve Gregory said. “[Joe] Flacco has a big arm. He makes good decisions with the football, so they have the ability to beat you in many ways and definitely over the top is one of them.”
Against the Broncos, Flacco threw three deep touchdowns, two to Torrey Smith for 59 yards and 32 yards, respectively, and one to Jacoby Jones for 70 yards with 31 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game.
Jones is a huge threat in the kick return game as well. He was named First Team All-Pro as a kick returner, averaging over 30 yards per return. While The Pats have been solid in return coverage as a whole this year despite the recent big returns given up vs. Houston last week, and another to the 49ers a month ago.
“You go back to the basics,” special teams captain and All-Pro Matt Slater said. “Go back to the fundamentals and the rules that we have as coverage players. Doing our jobs better; doing our assignments better. It’s been a strength for us this season, kickoff coverage, and I’m confident that we’ll get it fixed.”