It's the long awaited rematch of the AFC Championship. The Pats are headed into Baltimore missing their most versatile offensive weapon. Shockingly, one of these teams is going to start the season 1-2. Make the call - who wins tonight's game?
Jason: I'm less nervous about this game than any previous match-up with the Ravens in recent years. With the way New England has been shutting down the run, I can't see Baltimore's running game getting on track, and Joe Flacco. The last half of that sentence was intended as written. After I said "Joe Flacco," I didn't feel the need to explain further. It may be the kiss of death, but I'm picking the Pats to win by a TD.
Stephen: Based on the way the Ravens lost against the Eagles and with the state of the Patriots offense, I have to go against the grain and pick the Ravens. Baltimore continues to play physical defense, and I expect their front seven to give New England's offensive line major problems. Ed Reed and the secondary always play well against Tom Brady, and that matchup looks even juicier for Baltimore now that they don't have to defend one-half of the Boston TE Party.
Raj: This will be one tough game. The Ravens are generally a very successful group at home (we saw that last season). Both teams are sharing a factor coming into this game. They both lost. However, Baltimore does have one extra factor that could jeopardize the Patriots. It's the fact that they're coming into this game hungry for a win with some revenge. This is probably going to be New England's toughest match in the season. However, I believe that the Ravens can throw whatever they want. I believe in Brady and the Patriots to pull out of here with a small victory. I can say this because I'm very impressed with Stevan Ridley's performance and I'll be certain that New England will get over Hernandez's loss by next week. Additionally, we will see Gronk get more passes and Lloyd be on the same page as Brady. But I will always ask myself if that will be just enough against a very formidable Ravens D. 27-24 is my prediction but there will be blood.
Derek: It's time to stop the madness. I have been absolutely incredulous the past few days as expert, after expert, after expert picked the Ravens to win Sunday Night's game. Out of the 9,647 people they have making predictions on ESPN.com, I only saw one, repeat ONE, analyst choose the Patriots to win - Mike Ditka. Even Brucshi and Mike Reiss are throwing New England under the bus. Here at Foxboro Blog, the epicenter for level-headed homer opinion we have had a split opinion with Rick and Stephen begrudingly selecting Baltimore, and Jason and Raj backing the Pats.
Yes, all it took was an injury to Hernandez and a shaky loss to Arizona for everyone to completely lose confidence in the Patriots. Nobody believes in them right now. Nobody.
And that's exactly when the New England Patriots rise up, smack everbody in the face, and wake them up to the fact that this is Bill Belichick's team, this is Tom Brady's team, and this is the single-most dominant team in NFL history that has run roughshod over this league for the past decade plus and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Yes, I picked the Ravens to win this game a few weeks back when I was making my game by game predictions, but I'm not picking them now. Back then, I was banking on the Pats to have their annual early-season letdown game, and this revenge match against the Ravens seemed just like the type of game where the team would come out shaky, Brady would throw a pick or two, the team would lose, and everyone would start proclaiming doom for a week until the Pats came out the next week and started torching people. Well, it turns out that I was simply off by a week.
My pick: The Patriots win, and New England fans reflect back on Week 2 and are infintely thankful that Bernard Pollard never had the opportunity to shatter Aaron Hernandez's femur.