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Patriots ready to feel force against Ravens

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  January 21, 2012 09:54 PM

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Darth-Hoodie-II.jpgLast week, "The Empire Struck Back." This week, it’s "Revenge of the Hoodie."

My "Star Wars" analogies are a bit skewed, but you get the point.

Meanwhile, Toes Ryan gave the Pats the finger Friday and picked the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Patriots in Sunday's AFC championship game. Another good sign

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have two more demons lurking to exorcise this winter - the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants. If the Patriots win today and face the Giants in the Super Bowl, it will be time for "Darth Hoodie" to blow up his version of the Death Star. A Super Bowl matchup against the 49ers would feel like it did when the Red Sox played the Rockies in the World Series. We'll gladly take it, there just won't be a whole lot of hate.

The first task against the Ravens a little after 3 p.m. today on CBS will be making sure Ray Rice doesn’t do this on the first play.

Today's AFC championship game will come down to three basic questions:

Will the Patriots offensive line give Brady enough time to throw the ball? Maybe,

Will the Ravens be able to control the ball and keep Brady off the field? Possibly.

How many times will the Patriots turn the ball over? Who knows? Ray Lewis can be murder on any offense.

So much for predictions.

The Ravens are a good draw for the Patriots because New England’s biggest weakness all season has been the defense’s inability to slow down the opposition. That should not be an issue with Joe Flacco. An early lead by New England in this game could give the likes of Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung an opportunity to become stars on national TV if Flacco is forced to throw early and often. Rice, on the other hand, might give the Patriots problems. Any time the Ravens spend running the ball keeps Brady off the field. He is still a much more beatable potential opponent than Arian Foster would have been.

Ever since New England’s loss to the Giants at Gillette on Nov. 6, the Patriots have been living a charmed life. Their opponents have been soft, the division just opened up, the Jets imploded and every other team in the AFC somehow stumbled down the stretch allowing New England to notch the top-seed and the AFC title game at Gillette.

A version of this matchup was played two years ago when the Ravens blew out New England 33-14 in a contest that was over literally after the first play. Given what happened that day, a victory over the Ravens today would be Poe-etic. And we would never more have to hear about Rice's game-opening 83-yard TD run. The Pats will be in good shape if Rice doesn't have 83 yards rushing by the end of the first half, never mind after 20 seconds.

The Pats trailed 14-0 five minutes into that playoff game and Brady got booed early and often as he committed three of his four turnovers in the first quarter during his first playoff loss at Gillette. It was Brady’s worst passer rating of his career (49.1) at the time. Enough of that. Everything clicked that day for the Ravens. But Wes Welker didn’t play, Rob Gronkowski was still at Arizona and Aaron Hernandez and his Florida teammate Tim Tebow were in Gainesville coming off a 51-24 over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl nine days earlier.

Brady this season has reminded us once and for all that he belongs among the top three in the "Greatest QB of All-Time Discussion." A win today reinforces the argument. Until last week, he hadn't won a playoff game as a husband, although he managed to go 18-1 the first season after becoming a father.

From this week's press conference:

Q: In addition to preparing for this game, you're also a father and a family man. How do you balance that this week and through the playoffs?

Brady: That's part of the transition that comes as you gain experience, as your family expands, and it's important to have people at home who [can take] care of the kids. It gives me a lot of comfort knowing that I can show up to work and be 100 percent committed here. When I was younger, I didn't have to worry about those things, babysitters and stuff like that. But it's part of growing up, part of life. It's been a great part of my life. Hopefully we keep winning games. That makes it easier to go home. It's a much better quality of life for everybody in my household when we win.

OBF Translation: "Gisele , Ben and I have finally moved into that damn mansion. The nanny is doing a great job. John Edward Thomas right down the street in Pacific Palisades. Now I can focus on Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata before we play the Giants."

Brady is also playing beyond-pissed this year in his focus and attitude. He has been like this since lighting up the Dolphins for 517 yards on opening Monday night. Brady's best quote remains his oft-repeated line about his favorite ring "being the next one." In this "60 Minutes" clip from Dec. 23, 2007 - a youthful-looking Brady talks about motivation after three Super Bowls. The clip remains as relevant today as it was four-plus years ago and his "ring" quote appears at the 1:09 mark:

Brady gets his fifth Super Bowl trip with a win today. This week he spoke about the fact that his time is limited' and recognized how rare an opportunity today's game really is. There have been about 2,346 Sundays since the first AFL-NFL Championship Game. This is just the eighth Sunday during that span on which the Patriots have been playing for a trip to the Super Bowl. It is so rare yet has become seemingly commonplace.

In their quest for ultimate best-ever greatness, Brady and Belichick have spoiled us along the way. Making the Super Bowl is no longer good enough. But it sure would feel pretty sweet tonight about 7.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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