The New England Patriots are going to win today. I can pretty much ... sort of ... guarantee it.
Mind you, this is not to be confused with a blowout or a convincing victory. In fact, I’m guessing a field goal or two-point conversion will be the difference, at most.
Today’s game at 4:30 p.m. (on CBS, Ch. 4) is basically a playoff game. If the Patriots happen to lose and Miami wins, then next week’s game against Buffalo is a playoff game.
That’s OK, you know, the playoff-like atmosphere.
The point is the Patriots are experienced in “playoff” games. They’ve been playing them almost since opening day in Buffalo.
The “playoff” games I’m referring to are close, defensive-oriented, loud and usually decided in the last few minutes.
They are not the 34-13 games we’ve become accustomed to the last decade with Tom “Peyton” Brady.
This year, though, has been different. It seems every week a top talent is put on the injured reserve list and things look grim. And field goals are the difference between winning and losing.
I like/love the Patriots for a few reasons today.
Here are five of them:
Pats doubters are inspiring
The irony is it hasn’t happened much since the Patriots won three of four Super Bowls at the beginning of the 21st century. The Patriots, led by Bill Belichick and Brady, are almost always favored. In fact, when the Patriots were winning Super Bowls, they did it the underdog route each playoff run versus the Colts and Steelers. Well, the Patriots are being doubted big time (ESPN experts are 10-for-10 with Ravens today). This is when Belichick and Brady usually do their best work.
Ravens aren’t all that
The Ravens are scary, particularly their guile and mental (and physical) toughness. Despite losing their two cornerstone stars, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, they have finally started playing like they did last year. But last year and really for the past four years, the Ravens have been able to play with balance on offense. Not any more. They rank 29th in rushing yards per game. They can’t bully the Patriot defense like they have in past years. This all-pass/no-run offense fits into Belichick’s defensive game plan.
Backs against wall
The Patriots and, in particular, Brady, have played their best the last two months when they are down. That is a great “playoff” trait. The Patriots really need this game to get the bye (they are No. 2 seed right now) and will basically secure that berth with a win today as Buffalo has severe QB issues. The Patriots, because of their “playoff” games, are ready for what’s in store.
Running the ball
The Patriots can run the ball better than they have in a long time. While it’s not “Adrian Peterson-like,” the Patriots can run the ball with power with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount and the best way you go after a bully like the Ravens is by punching them in the mouth with some power running. Brady’s will win the game, but the Pats running game can finish it.
Bet on Belichick, Brady
You want to go with the odds, in an important contest? Go with the best in the business. Belichick is the best coach in the NFL, period. And right now, Brady is playing like the best quarterback in the NFL. I believe the Ravens are a little too full of themselves right now not realizing the grit these Patriots have in them.