There are a few of interesting story lines heading into this huge game between AFC favorites. One of them is that the Patriots have not forgotten last year's playoff drubbing at home at the hands of the Ravens. This will be the unveiling of the Patriots' offense without Randy Moss, but with Deion Branch. The Pats have not lost coming off a bye week since 2002, and the Ravens are some people's conference favorite after wins over the Jets and Steelers already this season.
The Ravens' defense might not have S Ed Reed, but they still have been stout as ever. They could be the first team this season to take Pats WR Wes Welker and TE Aaron Hernandez out of the game. The Patriots' young secondary gets another test up against great Ravens receivers in Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason, not to mention RB Ray Rice, who took the first play from scrimmage in the playoffs 83 yards for a TD.
Never underestimate a Bill Belichick-coached team coming off a bye week, but the Ravens are a more balanced squad that will win a close one.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Patriots 21