NFL Baltimore Ravens

NFL Playoffs: Baltimore Ravens: Recipe for an Upset

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Can Joe Flacco Step Up

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Chris Humphreys-USA Today Sports

There are certain factors that have to be present for an upset to take place; the question is can the Baltimore Ravens come up with enough of them the beat the New England Patriots? This is the NFL, so the word is a relative term but it would be a surprise if the Ravens moved on to the Super Bowl.

We’ll get into the other details during the slideshow but for the Ravens to have any chance; it boils down to one guy, Joe Flacco. He does not have to outplay Tom Brady but he has to play well enough to give his team a shot. People think he played well versus the Denver Broncos; he played ok. All he really did was throw three deep balls and his guys came down with them; only one of those was actually a good throw. The other two were horribly misplayed be the defensive backs of the Broncos. Those types of throws will not cut it versus a Bill Belichick defense.

Flacco is going to have to make every type of throw on Sunday; the short ones, the intermediate ones and of course the long ones. He’s going to have to throw for a high percentage and stay away from mistakes. Can he do it, of course he can do it but will he? Truth be told, Flacco outplayed Brady in last season’s AFC Championship Game but was let down by his teammates.

There are other keys for the Ravens to win on Sunday but if Flacco does not play well, then none of those other keys matter.

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Win the Turnover Battle

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If these two teams line up toe to toe, the Patriots are better. One of the quickest ways for a big underdog to pull off an upset is to win the turnover battle, and get some easy scores. The Ravens got three of them versus the Broncos that led to 17 points and they won the game by three. Without those turnovers, the Ravens are not playing this week. They will need a similar effort versus the Patriots.

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Run the Ball and Score Touchdowns

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Flacco does have to play well but it is the running game that has to be the biggest part of the offense for the Ravens. The Patriots are going to score points; it’s what they do. The Ravens have to limit the number of possessions for Brady and his offense. The best way to do that is with Ray Rice and the running game. However that running game has to result in first downs and touchdowns. Whenever the Patriots give up a field goal, they consider that a win because they know they are going to score touchdowns. In short the Ravens must; run the ball, convert third downs and score seven every time they have the chance to.

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Get an Easy Score

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Even if the offense for the Ravens plays perfect; it is doubtful that they can keep up with the Patriots. They need a cheap score; a punt return or an interception return for a touchdown. If returner, Jacoby Jones has a big day then the Ravens might have a shot in the fourth quarter.

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Turn Back the Clock

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Somehow, someway the Ravens have to turn back the clock and be the defense they were for so many years with Ray Lewis at linebacker. Even in the thrilling win over the Broncos, their defense was not very good and the Broncos moved the ball all day but did not finish enough drives. The Patriots will finish drives. If that proud defense has one more great game in them; now’s the time.

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Keep it Close

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The first-quarter of the game is huge; the longer the Ravens can stay in the game, the better their chances. The Broncos had numerous chances to go up by two scores in the divisional round and could never do it; the Ravens found ways to stay in the game and eventually won it. If the Patriots jump out to a two score lead early, then we can all start looking for the Sunday Night Movie of the week.

The Ravens have a punchers chance but it’s a chance. However the last ride for Lewis ends today and the Patriots move onto another Super Bowl. Patriots-35 Ravens-24

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