AFC Championship: New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens Offenses Finding Their Traction

By Curt Popejoy
Baltimore Ravens
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing worse than a boring football game. And by the end of the first quarterback, most NFL fans were looking at the AFC Championship game matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots and wondering if this game was going to be a real snoozer of a football game. But in the 2nd quarter both teams loosened up a little on offense, and there started to be some excitement as we head into halftime with the Patriots leading 13-7.

Early on, both teams seemed content with taking what the defenses were going to give them and essentially just handing the football back and forth. But as the half progressed, you saw both coaches putting ever so slight tweaks to their offensive game plans and they both added up to touchdown drives.

For the Ravens, they have decided they are going to use that big physical offensive line to push around the front seven of the Patriots and just feed running back Ray Rice until the Patriots respect it enough to come up in the box to defend it. As it stands now they are still more concerned with taking away the deep pass, so a halftime adjustment for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could be to slide a safety up to stop the run, and hope they defense can hold. Much will depend on whether or not cornerback Aqib Talib will be able to return and if so, play well enough to cover wide receiver Anquan Boldin. This injury will mold the play calling for both head coaches in the 2nd half.

The Patriots offense is starting to find some rhythm, and it’s doing it through the air. I said in my preview that I expected the Patriots to come out and run a little more, but it appears Ravens head coach John Harbaugh felt the same way, and they have done a nice job stacking up the Patriots run game. But as with all great teams they have a plan B, and that plan B is a fast paced short throw, long run passing offense that can each up chunks of yards. For the Patriots they are going to want to find a way to get that ground game going, but I don’t consider it a priority. Having quarterback Tom Brady under center is like having another coach on the field and he is doing a good job checking off and going from run to pass and vice versa, whichever the Ravens defense is giving them. It’s going to be up to the Ravens to do better to disguise blitzes and commit later to help hide the defensive calls.

Here’s to a great 2nd half and an exciting finish. Both these teams have come to play and I expect both coaches to open it up in the 2nd half.

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