The road to New Orleans runs through New England as the Baltimore Ravens head there to face the Patriots in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The painful memories of the loss are still fresh for the Ravens; they are hopeful that this game has a different ending.
The No. 2 and No. 4 seeds will battle it out Sunday night for the AFC title and a visit to the big game on February 3.
It was quite the season for the Ravens. After everything that went wrong, the right things happened at the right time and they are ready to lick their wounds and head back to the scene of the crime. The Ravens should use last year’s painful loss to fuel their burning desire to win.
Thankfully the Ravens are still healthy with few injuries; they are ready for battle on Sunday.
Head coach John Harbaugh feels good about his team:
“We look good,” Harbaugh said Friday. “We are very similar to what we have been the last few weeks. Don’t think there will be any surprises. We should be in good shape injury-wise.”
Running back Bernard Pierce re-aggravated a knee injury in last week’s game against the Denver Broncos. He was limited in practice on Friday, but says he will play.
Three players are listed as questionable; fullback Vonta Leach, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and wide receiver/special teams David Reed. All are likely to play.
Sixteen players are listed as probable as part of the comprehensive injury report. Some notable players on the report include linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson is the only player ruled out with a thigh injury.
The Patriots are favored to win with a spread of 9.5 points. While most picked the Patriots; at least one person has faith in the Ravens.
CBS Sports’ Clark Judge believes the Ravens can pull off the win. He acknowledges the Ravens will have a tough task in New England, but says they have a history of success against Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. He credits Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco’s recent success to an improved offensive line.
The Ravens know what they need to do to beat the Patriots. They have faced this challenge before. While the formula sounds simple; it is easier said than done. Stop Brady from moving and force turnovers.
The game will also answer the question of whether or not the Ravens are a team of destiny. It seems unreal that they will be back in the place where it ended for them last season; I can only pray it has a different ending this time.