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Patriots-Ravens prediction

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Jan. 22, 2012 @ 2:07 a.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

The two best teams in the AFC will meet on Sunday in a clash of styles. The hard-nosed, physical, defensive and run-first Ravens squad against the high-octane air attack of a Patriots team that is no stranger to a shootout. It is the rematch of a wild-card game two years ago that the Ravens dominated from the opening snap.

This Patriots team is much different, and it starts with the TE tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The pair has been unstoppable this season. If you stop Gronk, Hernandez will beat you, and vice versa. And if the Ravens' linebackers and safeties spend too much time concerning themselves with the tight ends, Wes Welker will have more room in the middle of the field, as will the Patriots' running backs.

The Ravens' offense has been inconsistent this year, but if Ray Rice can have a big game — or if Joe Flacco has the game of his life — the Patriots will have their work cut out for them.

The Pats' defense is brimming with confidence after its best performance of the season. A 30-point effort from New England, something the team did 12 times in the regular season, should be enough to win.

But expect this one to be close — the Ravens simply don't get blown out and could boast the best defense the Patriots have seen all season long. In the end, this Patriots team, which looked like it was on a mission last week, will have too much on offense and should return to the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Ravens 20

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