We've already talked about the Baltimore Ravens are capable of beating the New England Patriots in Sunday's AFC Championship game despite being big underdogs. Their defense is elite and they're capable of doing what few teams can do and that's rattle Tom Brady.
That said, the Patriots are 9-point favorites for a reason. SB Nation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, predicts a New England victory (as did I) noting that, while the Pats give up a ton of yards, the defense is efficient enough when it counts. We asked Pats Pulpit why the Patriots are capable of winning this game, and why they're capable of losing.
Why The Patriots Can Win: The Patriots have a great chance to win this game because of the pure fire that's going around the locker room. Urgency may not be the best word, but the entire team has been swept up and are ready and willing to fight together. The overall vibe: they're loose and they're riding for something greater than the team.
From a football standpoint, the Ravens may not have the answer to defending Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, while the Ravens will have to hope lightning strikes twice at the same place with a big day from Ray Rice. The Patriots defense has found its stride in recent weeks and they were actually the best second half defense in the league for the last nine games of the season as only one team scored more than seven points. If the Patriots can get to halftime with a lead, they can run away with the game.
Why The Patriots Can Lose: Ray Rice and Torrey Smith. The Patriots were last in the league for home run plays allowed (i.e.: plays of 20-plus yards) and it wasn't even close. While the Patriots defense was efficient -- you could count the touchdowns from those large plays on your hands -- the Patriots have to limit any opportunity the Ravens have at getting an easy score. If the Ravens get an easy score, then the game will be a dog fight.
For updates and analysis on these teams leading up to the 2012 AFC Championship, visit Ravens blog Baltimore Beat Down, Patriots blog Pats Pulpit and SB Nation Boston. Don't forget to check out SB Nation's NFL hub for all your playoff news.