By Samuel Njoku
Some are calling it the “Flacco Fling” while others are referring to it as the “Mile High Miracle.” Whatever you wish to call it, the 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones in the final minute of the game has catapulted the Ravens into their second straight AFC Championship appearance. Who better for them to meet there than the New England Patriots? The last time these two teams faced each other, Baltimore got the upper hand with a 31-30 thriller at M&T Bank Stadium.
This time, Baltimore will head to New England, where they lost in heart-breaking fashion in last year’s AFC Championship. So what are the Ravens’ chances of winning this time? The Ravens are currently +9.5 underdogs in this contest. That’s a similar line to what the odds makers gave them against the Broncos a few days ago. And that didn’t turn out quite the way many expected.
In short, Baltimore has a great chance to advance to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. New England is a better team than they were when the two met each other in Week 3. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Ravens have improved a great deal as well. Particularly, their pass rush is three times as formidable as they were in September. Paul Kruger looks to be unstoppable on passing situations. Terrell Suggs seems to be getting his mojo back as he recorded two sacks against Peyton Manning after only registering two the entire regular season.
And then there is the return of Ray Lewis. The future hall of famer continues to win the battle against time as he recorded 17 tackles in the divisional round of the postseason. Even with all this going for the defense, they will still have a battle ahead of them. The Ravens will be facing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after all. Brady made quick work of the Houston Texans on Sunday and put the world on notice that they won’t be an easy out.
If Brady forces a shootout, Baltimore will be confident they can compete with Joe Flacco under center. Flacco has been nothing short of spectacular this postseason. He’s making plays on a consistent basis and his mistakes have been minimal. If he can get this team over the hump, he’ll be a rich man in the offseason. Luckily for him, he won’t have to do it alone. Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta have caught anything they can get their hands on. Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith have become un-coverable at this point. Their burning cornerbacks and making it look easy. Coach Belichick does a great job of taking away the team’s best player. In this situation, how can he point out a single player on this roster? The Ravens are clicking on all cylinders, and their doing it at the right time.
It’s truly anyone’s guess who will walk out of Sunday as AFC Champions. But with Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff removed from the roster, Baltimore has a much better chance to seal the deal.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Ravens news, see CBS Sports Baltimore
Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.