• FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager predicts the Ravens will be heading to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
The only time these two teams played in a playoff game, it was a 33-14 win in the wild-card round up in New England in 2010. Joe Flacco's 1-0 in playoff games in Foxborough. He's already played in seven road playoff games. There will be no "jitters" from the fourth-year quarterback.
It's going to come down to the Ravens linebackers covering those Patriots tight ends. Suggs, Lewis, Johnson and McClain will be up to the task.
I know it sounds crazy, but I like the Ravens on Sunday. Like the Cowboys did earlier this season vs. New England, the defense should stifle Brady just enough to give the offense a chance. And unlike the Cowboys earlier this season, the Ravens offense will be able to get the job done. The pick: Ravens 30, Patriots 27
• SI.com's "Bet On It" feature has many predictions for the Ravens-Patriots game, including thoughts on a big game from Ray Rice.
Ray Rice will rush for at least 120 yards: As both the Ravens and Patriots have said all week, the 2009 playoff meeting between the two teams won't hold a lot of weight Sunday, given the changes both franchises have made since then. And yet it's hard to forget Ray Rice's 159-yard day on the ground that day, which started with an 83-yard TD run on the game's first play. Baltimore, as it usually does, will try to feed Rice the ball early and often. New England may prevent him from busting off a huge play, like he did in 2009, but it will be difficult for the Patriots to contain him completely.
• ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal both pick the Patriots to knock the Ravens out of the playoffs.
Florio's take: Yes, the Baltimore offense looked sluggish against the Texans. During the regular season, however, the Texans had one of the best defenses in the league. The Patriots, in sharp contrast, had one of the worst. Still, can the Ravens muster at least one more point than the New England offense will score? The internal offense-vs.-defense strife in Baltimore seems to be real, and it could lead to an ugly confrontation on the sidelines if the Pats jump out to an early lead and the Ravens can't respond. Also, the Pats' defense quietly is improving. Throw in the fact that the Patriots would love to give owner Robert Kraft something about which to feel good as he continues to mourn his wife's passing (Myra Kraft's initials remain on their jerseys), Tom Brady's memory of a home thrashing two years ago from the Ravens, and a burning desire by Brady and Bill Belichick to finally get that fourth championship, and it's hard to envision the Patriots losing. Florio's pick: Patriots 27, Ravens 20.
Rosenthal's take: This game comes down to two questions. Is the Ravens defense more dominant than the Patriots offense? After watching Houston's running game push Baltimore around last week, I'm rolling with the Patriots there. Terrell Suggs disappears too often. New England's tight ends are too hard to defend. Second question: Does the good Joe Flacco show up this week? All season, I've thought a great quarterback would take the Patriots out in the playoffs. New England doesn't have to face a great quarterback in the AFC. The health of Patrick Chung, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, and the rest of the Patriots no-names all help make the New England defense competent enough. Rosenthal's pick: Patriots 31, Ravens 27.
• CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco thinks the Ravens' season will end with a loss in New England.
Patriots 31, Ravens 21: The Ravens went into Foxboro and beat the Patriots in the playoffs two years ago, dominating from start to finish. But these are much different teams. Even so, that has to help Baltimore's confidence. The Ravens lost 23-20 in overtime to the Patriots last season in Foxboro. Tom Brady is coming off a six-touchdown game. He looked as comfortable as he has looked all season in carving up Denver. But this Ravens defense is much better. The Baltimore secondary will have to try and take away Rob Gronkowski and force Brady to go elsewhere. He doesn't have a deep threat, which will help make that easier to do. New England's defense has really struggled this season, but played well against Denver. That's because Denver is a run-first team. The Ravens can't be that here. Even though Ray Rice is key, they have to make some plays down the field, and they will. Joe Flacco will have some shots and hit a few. But he won't be able to keep up with Brady. The Ravens won't be able to hit him enough and Brady will make them pay. Patriots take it and move on to the Super Bowl.
• All five CBSSports.com analysts predict a Patriots-Giants Super Bowl. Only Clark Judge and Will Brinson expect the Ravens to be within the 7 1/2-point spread.
• Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News believes the Ravens will lose by one point.
Patriots 24, Ravens 23: On the other side, Baltimore will lean heavily on running back Ray Rice to move the ball, but that won't be enough. On top of asking their defense to force turnovers, the Ravens must trust quarterback Joe Flacco to take shots against the Patriots' weaknesses in coverage.
No offense to Flacco, but Brady looks like a man on a mission. He played brilliantly against the Broncos with six touchdown passes. And he will get his team a step closer to accomplishing it.
• Warren Sapp of Showtime's Inside the NFL picks the Ravens to win, but Cris Collinsworth expects the Patriots to march to Indianapolis. Phil Simms' pick is withheld due to commentating rules.
• Seth Wickersham is the only ESPN's NFL "expert" to pick the Ravens to beat the Patriots.
• The Madden 12 simulation on ESPN.com predicts a 10-point loss for the Ravens.
Tom Brady throws four touchdown passes, including two scores to the beast of all beastly tight ends, Rob Gronkowski, as the Patriots simply manhandle the Ravens defense in their 34-24 victory. If anything, it's New England's defense that steps up in the AFC Championship sim, picking off Joe Flacco twice, while holding Ray Rice to just 59 yards rushing.
Seeing other predictions on this week's NFL games? Leave them as a comment below.
[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun