NFL Playoff Preview: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are -6.5 favorites on the NFL betting lines against the Baltimore Ravens as the teams prepare to meet at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon in an AFC Divisional Playoffs game while the OVER/UNDER is set at 47.5.

New England blew by Baltimore 41-7 as a 1-point road favorite in their last meeting in December 2013, but the Ravens have managed to go 3-2-1 ATS in their last six matchups since 2010.

The Baltimore Ravens have eliminated their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the time has come to distribute the game ball to the best player on the team.

One of the stars of the 30-17 victory Saturday night was linebacker Terrell Suggs, whose spectacular interception made using his legs, made sure that the Ravens take the road to New England to face the Patriots next weekend.

“We had to tell him that he would receive the game ball after he made the most extraordinary pick in the history of football, said head coach John Harbaugh.”

Opportunistic, indeed. Like the Ravens, who fumbled on the way to sixth among qualified teams in the American Association, before playing their best game of the season at the most important moment.

“We were at our best,” said quarterback Joe Flacco.

It didn’t matter that the Ravens had lost 42-23 to Pittsburgh in November, or that they needed 17 points in the fourth quarter in their last game against Cleveland – and a defeat to the Chargers from Kansas City Chiefs – to get their pass to the playoffs.

Perceived as neglected in a game against the NFC North champions, the Ravens began the series with a win for the sixth time in as many attempts since the arrival of Harbaugh, in 2008. Since then, the Ravens have a 7-4 record in the playoffs.

“We often played on the road in the playoffs, said Harbaugh. That may be the reason.

Having to travel to Pittsburgh was a minor inconvenience when compared to all that the Ravens had to sustain during the year. Suspension and possible dismissal of running back Ray Rice, the suspension of four games to Haloti Ngata and injuries to several cornerbacks eventually paved the way for their qualification.

“You cannot let adversity bring you down. When things are not right, you demonstrate unity and you fight, said Harbaugh. This is what our players have done throughout the year. Over time, you know it will come.

Flacco, and his revamped attack all delivered the goods against the Steelers. And this was also the case for Suggs, a veteran of 12 seasons of this great rivalry that had never experienced the joys of victory against Pittsburgh in January.

While the Ravens were clinging to a 23-15 lead in the fourth quarter, Suggs was about to fall to the ground when he put his hands on a deflected pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The ball slipped from his hands, but Suggs managed to retain control by squeezing it between his legs while rolling on the grass.

“A big play by a specialist in big games,” said Ravens linebacker, Pernell McPhee.

“We can no longer say that I have never beaten the Steelers in the playoffs, Suggs said. It is a great feat, but it’s already over. We all know who we have to face next.

The Ravens do not shudder at the thought of facing the Patriots next Saturday, who are ranked number one in the AFC. The Ravens have a 2-1 record against the Patriots in playoff games, including a 28-13 victory in January 2013, which preceded a 34-31 triumph against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl.

“This is a very well run team, very talented, and we must prepare ourselves vigorously, acknowledged linebacker Elvis Dumervil,  who had two sacks Saturday night.

“It will be a difficult challenge, and we know it. But we look forward to this challenge.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at New England Patriots (12-4)

When: Saturday, January 10th, 2015
Time: 4:25pm (Eastern Time) 
Where:  Gillette Stadium, New England, USA
Opening NFL oddsNew England -6 ½  
NFL Betting Odds from: Bovada

Betting Trends:

Baltimore is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
Baltimore is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Baltimore’s last 5 games
Baltimore is 4-6-2 ATS in its last 12 games when playing New England
New England is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games
New England is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New England’s last 6 games
New England is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home

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