Here's an article from the Buzzard's top beat writer, Mike Preston. There's no question that the Ravens see the Patriots are overrated, soft...sissies. Sundays' game means more than gaining an AFC Championship and a trip to the SB. If the Patriots lose this game, odds of them really seriously contending for a title in the forseeable future are nil. They should beat the Ravens. They have the talent to get it done, and are playing on their home field. But, do they have the heart? Preston doesn't think so...and, to a man, neither do the Ravens. It's up to the Patriots to man-up, and prove differently. In other words, it's time to punch the bully in the mouth. Here's the Preston article, with my comments included, in
Except for playing at home, the Ravens
couldn't be in any better position to win an AFC
championship when they meet the New England Patriots
They aren't going into lowly Jacksonville, Tennessee or Seattle, but Foxborough, Mass., where the Patriots have won five of six playoff games at Gillette Stadium since 2002. They are playing against head coach Bill Belichick
, who has won three Super Bowls and Tom Brady
, possibly the greatest quarterback in NFL history. The Ravens have played to their opponents' level most of the season, and that's why they could beat New England. It forces them to play up, and put together possibly a near perfect game, which they haven't played all season. They need to be challenged, and what may be just as important, the Ravens love the underdog role. They relish being in this position.RESPONSE: If both teams bring their "A" game, the Buzzards will come up short.
All week long we've been hearing how great the Patriots (14-3) are, but two of their three losses were to teams with winning records while the Ravens beat all of the top teams they played.RESPONSE: This is true. The Buzzards have beaten the 49ers, crushed the Jets, beat the Texans, and bested the Bengals and Steelers twice, each.
Nobody fears New England's defense. The Patriots have been soft all year even though they were impressive a week ago against Denver, which had one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in the NFL.RESPONSE: There's that word "soft" again, used to describe the Patriots.
You can almost smell an ambush here. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis
has called Belichick one of the brightest minds ever and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs
has been gushing over Brady this week after years of verbal exchanges.RESPONSE: Translation: Don't believe a word of the platitudes being heaped upon BB and Brady by the likes of Suggs, and Lewis. Believe instead what Bernard Pollard had to say, when he referred to Brady as a "pretty boy". This is how the Buzzards really feel about the Pats.
That's funny. What's next, roses?
Suggs can't stand Brady and the Ravens don't care much for New England. There is a great deal of mutual respect shared between the two teams, but the Ravens have a lot to prove when they take the field Sunday.
It's personal.RESPONSE: Indeed it is...and the Patriots had better take it this way.
The Patriots have the NFL's No. 2 offense and the Ravens are ranked No. 3 in defense. That's personal. Few teams are ever favored by more than a touchdown, especially in the playoffs, but New England is getting 7.5. points.
That's a slap in the face to the Ravens. That's personal.
The Patriots, Green Bay Packers
and Indianapolis Colts
are the NFL's golden boys but the Ravens still get treated like the ugly stepchild.RESPONSE: Again...the Ravens see the Patriots as overrated sissies.
Even in Baltimore this week, some of the euphoria has calmed down after the Ravens beat Houston, 20-13, in the divisional playoffs a week ago. The other three teams in the conference championship round -- New York, New England and San Francisco --seemed to be peaking, while the Ravens were terrible.
A lot of fans dropped off the band wagon because of the poor play.
That won't happen Sunday. There is too much pride involved. Whenever this team gets pushed around, especially on defense, they respond well the next week. Go ask the 49ers.RESPONSE: Pride. We'll see if the Patriots have any this Sunday. To lose to these thugs again on their home field would be a disaster...and would signal the end of the Patriots being a serious contender for a championship for the forseeable future.
With New England, the Patriots force an opponent to bring its A game because they have so many weapons. A lot of mistakes on either side of the ball can result in a blow out.
The Ravens need this kind of pressure. If offensive coordinator Cam Cameron
was "under fire" during the regular season, his butt has to be sizzling this week. If first year defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano
thought it was tough last week, wait until he has to match wits with Belichick and Brady.
Last week's win was almost a debacle, but that game will play a major part in the outcome of Sunday's game. After allowing five sacks last week, this group can't be that bad again.RESPONSE: We'll see. Of course, the Patriots' "D" hasn't played to the caliber of the Houston "D", til last Saturday. The "D" must step up in a similar fashion, if the Pats arte to get the job done Sunday. They must stop RB Ray Rice, and pressure the flaky Flacco. http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/bs-sp-preston-column-0120-20120119,0,2585736.column