Ravens Patriots Playoffs

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Ravens

vs.

Patriots

AFC

Divisional Playoffs

Pick with Analysis

1/10/15

Football fans should be in for quite a treat this weekend as the NFL Divisional playoffs take center stage with 3 of the 4 Games involving legitimate playoff teams that just about everyone counted on to be in the daNCe. The first Game kicks off at 4:35pm est. as the Baltimore Ravens visit the New England Patriots. The Patriots are teetering between -6.5 and -7 as of this writing on Wednesday afternoon. 5 Dimes sportsbook currently has the Pats at -7 even with a total of 47.5.

This will be the 4th playoff meeting between these two. Everyone remembers the first meeting back in the 2009 Wild Card round when the underdog Ravens came into Foxboro and before we all had a chance to get comfortable in Our E-Z chairs, the Ravens were up 24-0 in the 1st quarter, on their way to a 33-14 win.

The Patriots got their revenge in the 2011 AFC Championship Game needing a 4th quarter TD run from Tom Brady to notch a 23-20 win. It took just one year for the Ravens to pay back the Pats, again in the AFC title Game in 2012, this time by a score of 28-13 on their way to eventually becoming Super Bowl Champs.

Patriots turn for revenge?

There are some HUGE psychological edges that favor the Ravens here. Specifically, they won’t be intimidated having won here in the playoffs twice before with the lone playoff loss being a 3 point setback on a 4th quarter TD. That goes along with their road playoff success in general with the Ravens at 7-4 straight up and 8-3 against the spread on the road since 2008, the year Harbaugh took over as coach and FlACCo took over behind center.

Sometimes one team simply has another teams number. That’s certainly going to be on the minds of the Patriots when they take the field Saturday, especially if the Ravens get on the board first. However, I think Tom Brady summed it up best with the following comments in a radio interview this week:

“It’s going to be the Patriots’ 2014 version vs. the Ravens’ 2014 version and we go from there. We’ll be able to evaluate some stuff scheme-wise that they could possibly do vs. us, that’s always helpful. But it will be determined by what happens on the field Saturday night, not anything that’s happened in the past.”

With that in mind, the feeling here is that the 2014 Patriots are a better football team than the 2014 Ravens. Not to mention that while the Ravens own a 2-1 edge in playoff Games, the Pats are 8-3 all time vs. the Ravens iNCluding a 5-2 mark at home.

The Ravens looked good last week in Pittsburgh, as predicted here, however, that was against a Steelers team that quite frankly, wasn’t that good. The Patriots however, were one of the best teams in the NFL this year from start to finish and while the past may not come into play, the Pats can certainly use that past as motivation.

The Ravens had very respectable yards per point numbers this year with a 14.3 on offense and a 17.9 on defense for a +3.6 differential. That 17.9 on defense is the best defensive ypp number of all remaining playoff teams. The Patriots numbers are 12.5 on offense and 17.6 on defense for a +5.1 differential. That 12.5 is tops on offense of all playoff teams and that 17.6 defensive number a very close 2nd.

Using those ypp numbers to make a line, the Pats would be favored by 4 or 5 points which would suggest that there might be some value taking +7. However, if we take the Ravens road ypp numbers and the Pats home numbers, we see a different story. Ravens on the road = 13.4 and 16 and the Patriots at home = 11.8 and 21.1.

Those home numbers of the Pats are simply blazing on both sides of the ball and are far and away the best of all playoff teams. NFL teams play an entire season with the goal being home field advantage in the playoffs and we expect that home field advantage to really come into play in Foxboro this week.

Our NFL model agrees. We use three sets of parameters with the model, Full season, last 7 Games and last 4 Games, just to get a different perspective for how a team has played overall and how a team has played lately. In this Game, it makes no differeNCe which set of parameters we use, it comes up Patriots in every one both straight up and against the spread. Here are the predicted scores:

Full Season Data – Patriots 29 Ravens 19

Last 7 Games Only – Patriots 29 Ravens 15

Last 4 Gems Only – Patriots 20 Ravens 11

****Keep in mind, the Patriots lost to the Bills in a meaningless final Game, and those stats are includedabove. That Games gets lost when combined with the full season, however, impacts the numbers more when using only 4 Games.

** Also note all 3 predict the Game to go UNDER the total of 47.5.

To sum up, the Ravens were far from dominant this year. In fact, their success came against mostly bad teams. They feasted on the likes of the Saints, Browns, Bucs and Jags yet stumbled against playoff teams like the Colts, Bengals and Steelers, Not to mention the Texans and Chargers. Good teams. The Pats on the other hand, lost to Miami to start the year, had a no show performance at KC and then lost a dog fight at Green Bay. The rest were all wins and not just wins where they snuck by their opponents. They won with a purpose. They blew out playoff teams such as the Colts, Broncos and Bengals.

In a spot like this, we handicap a straight up winner and let the chips fall where they may as far as the spread goes. You simply can’t handicap a Game like this and go with an underdog because you think they’ll lose, but not by the number. In other words, if you’re betting the Ravens, you should be doing so because you think they’ll win straight up making the points a bonus.

This one belongs to the Patriots and when the dust clears, the margin might surprise some folks. With the spread now under a TD at some shops, we’ll lay it. Patriots -6.5

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