The Patriots have without a doubt improved on defense compared to last season, but their passing defensive strategy (give but don’t break) has not been it’s best it could be this season. The secondary will have to show up in New England, or the Patriots will be picked apart by Joe Flacco.
Flacco has had the Patriots’ number his whole career, even though he might not win every game against them, he will still put up big numbers. The Patriots will have to rattle him, which means the secondary will have to force turnovers. If Flacco loses confidence early on, the Patriots could actually win big, but if he gets hot early on it will remain a close game until the Patriots can force some incomplete passes or interceptions.
Key players in this game will be Aquib Talib, Vince Wilfork, and Devin McCourty.
Talib may have to be the one to try and shutdown Torrey Smith, who caused havoc for the Patriots when they defeated them. He will have to eliminate him from the game entirely, and force Anquan Boldin to make plays in the short passing game.
Wilfork, be big, be fat, do your job and shut down Ray Rice. Hold the Ravens to less than 80 yards, and yes, that is very possible for the Patriots.
McCourty could bring flashbacks of Ty Law, and make a couple of interceptions in this AFC Championship game.