Can the Ravens keep up if this game turns into a shootout?
Baltimore's offense is playing its best football of the season right now. Joe Flacco is performing at a high level, the Ravens are having consistent success on the ground and the shuffled offensive line has been impressive in both pass protection as well as in opening holes in the running game. And for as great as the Patriots' offense has been this year, the defense has been just average. New England ranked among the top-10 in the NFL in both points allowed and rushing defense, but it ranked fourth-worst in the AFC in total defense and worst in the AFC in pass defense. The Patriots yielded an average of 271 yards per game through the air during the regular season and they gave up 343 yards and two scores to Texans quarterback Matt Schaub last week. Flacco threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns against New England in September. Flacco has thrown for a combined 613 yards and five touchdowns without an interception in the Ravens' two playoff games to this point.
Can the defense slow down the Patriots' offense?
The Ravens are one of the few teams that's had somewhat consistent success against Tom Brady. Brady has a lower completion percentage (58.6) and passer rating (74.1) against Baltimore than he does against any team in the NFL, and the Ravens are the only team against which Brady has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (8). With that said, Brady's still one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks and a quarterback that threw for 335 yards against Baltimore in September. And with Brady leading the way, the Patriots led the NFL in both total offense (428 yards/game) and scoring offense (34.8 points/game) during the regular season. Brady was the AFC's leading passer during the regular season (4,827 yards), but New England also has a deep and talented group of running backs that it attacks defenses with in a variety of ways. But, for as much as it struggled at times during the regular season, the Ravens' defense has played well in recent weeks. They held a potent Broncos offense scoreless on six of its final seven possessions last week.
Can Baltimore pull a second straight road upset and advance to the Super Bowl?
There's no doubt it will be tough. Brady leads one of the NFL's most explosive offenses, Vince Wilfork spearheads a stingy New England rush defense and the Patriots' Gillette Stadium is traditionally a tough place to win for opposing teams, especially in the playoffs. But the Ravens are clicking right now. Their offense has posted 441 yards or more in each of the last three games their starters have seen extensive playing time while their defense limited the high-powered Broncos to just offensive scores in five-plus quarters of action last week after holding the Colts to just nine points a week earlier. Needless to say, it will be an interesting game.