Predictions for AFC title game

Predictions for AFC title game
January 19, 2013, 5:00 pm
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The Ravens know what's needed in Sunday's AFC title game against the Patriots if they want to earn their first Super Bowl trip in 12 years. 

Limit the mistakes, keep playing offense the way they've been the first two weeks of post-season play, slow Tom Brady's passing attack, get good pass coverage and a strong pass rush are some of the things the Ravens need to do to let Ray Lewis end his career in the Super Bowl. 

It sounds like a lot, but the Patriots also have to do a bunch of things because this is becoming one of the NFL's good playoff rivalries. Something interesting always seems to happen when these two teams get together. 

In 2009, the Ravens torched New England in a game that very few people expected them to win. But the Ravens came away with an easy 33-14 victory on the road. 

Last year, the Ravens really shut down Brady and the offense, but a few late mistakes cost them, and the Patriots ended up with a 23-20 victory and a trip to the Super Bowl. 

But the Ravens have played New England in big games before -- up there -- and know what to expect. They know what the Patriots do. That's a big advantage over going against a team you don't see too much. 

The Ravens have seen them plenty, including earlier this season when they pulled out a 31-30 victory over the Patriots in Baltimore despite falling behind 13-0 at the start. The questions is if the Ravens can push the Pats again.

PREDICTION: Ravens 31, Patriots 27-- This could turn into a shootout between Brady and Joe Flacco, and the Ravens' QB has been on a roll. If the Ravens can hold the Patriots to field goals a few times, that could wind up being a big help because there's no question Brady will move them. However, Flacco and the Baltimore offense have gotten a lot of big plays in recent weeks, and that's what turns games around quickly. Plus, the Ravens are fired up to send Lewis off right.