TV Schedule: Sunday, Dec. 22, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
Weather: High 71, Low 50
Line: Baltimore (-2.5)
Winning by the leg of Justin Tucker a week ago, the Baltimore Ravens seem to have new life in the AFC playoff race. While the Ravens are defending Super Bowl champs, they still have a lot to improve on in order to make a solid run at repeating. Joe Flacco leads the 20th-ranked passing offense with his rocket of an arm, passing for 3,460 yards and 18 touchdowns even after losing Anquan Boldin in the offseason. Torrey Smith seems to be his favorite wide out, catching 59 passes for 1,032 yards and four touchdowns — a 17.5 yards per reception average. Ray Rice has struggled this season on the ground for the fourth-worst rushing offense in the league with 605 yards and four scores.
The New England Patriots have fared much better this season than the Ravens, posting a 10-4 record and placing themselves in the discussion for the first overall seed in the AFC postseason. Tom Brady has had to deal with a lack of solid, proven receivers this season and has still had a great year, passing for 4,049 yards and 23 touchdowns — even though Rob Gronkowski is out with an ACL injury. Julian Edelman is the team’s leading receiver with 89 catches for 914 yards and six touchdowns while Gronkowski was second with 39 catches for 592 yards and four scores. Stevan Ridley leads the rushing attack with 645 yards and seven touchdowns on the year for the 12th-best rushing attack in football.
Defensively, the Patriots have struggled a bit in order to stop teams this season. New England ranks 24th in total yards allowed and 31st in rushing yards allowed per game while also ranking 11th in points allowed per game. Baltimore has been a bit better this season, ranking seventh in both points allowed and rushing yards allowed per game as well ninth in total yards and 13th in passing yards allowed per game.
PREDICTION: Patriots 31, Ravens 24
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.