Let me tell you this…defense wins championships! Look, I like watching the passing attacks, West Coast Offenses and high flying, showboating players as much as anyone, but when you get down to the nut cut, defense is what gets you victories in the playoffs. What a weekend we enjoyed last week as the NFL’s season heads to a close, especially if you’re an underdog player. All the riff-raff is now weeded out and what’s left is the cream of the crop. Before we get into this AFC Championship game, the other side of the NFL (the NFC) endured some big upsets; this may be another year where the Super Bowl victor comes from the old school squad AFC. All that being said, let’s take a look at the AFC Title game between the Patriots of New England, and the Ravens of Baltimore.
The only thing better Baltimore possesses than its defense is its crab cakes and soft shell crabs. #1 and #2 in the country for the food, the defense boasts a #2 ranking against the pass and is #4 against the rush. You can never be the best at everything. The Ravens offense is just sub-par; they always seem to be able to do what they need to do to win. QB Flacco, even when he is on fire, just gets enough to get the win and move on. Flacco even got caught saying “he doesn’t get any attention when they win”. NFL QBs always get attention, but in a way he was serious, he knows the defense they possess holds the keys to victory. LB Ray Lewis has been here before; he knows these ropes and has climbed them. This guy is a nightmare for opposing QBs, he may also be the reason Flacco, jokingly says he won’t get any attention, QB Flacco and LB Lewis are the leaders on this team, and when your defense is the focus of wins, well who gets the attention?
Let’s go to the other side of the top rated, the Patriots hold the #2 passing attack in the NFL, and just the inverse of the prior, their defense is just half-ass. The defense does just enough to get it done, and keeps enough points off the board so the offense can clean up and get the victory. I’ll say this; not many look as good as QB Tom Brady in the offensive sets, calling the plays, audibles, and definitely passing. You give him the controls and you’ll get digits on the board. Bill Belichick’s biggest concern has to be getting some defensive awareness in this title game. You think I’m kidding… If your daughter is the hottest one in high school, you’re not worried about the number of dates she gets; you’re worried about stopping the boys from scoring. Listen I’m not taking away from the outstanding performance that New England has put up these last few years, they have a future Hall of Fame QB in Brady, and can almost score at will, but as with all high profile downfalls, it comes from within, and that’s the defense, or the lack thereof.
New England will host this game and is favored by seven, the Patriots will have a shot at winning the AFC title and mostly like the Super Bowl if they can get their defense in gear and produce even just a few stops of the lack-luster, no-attention getting Flacco and the Ravens. If the Ravens and Flacco can do “just enough to get by” they will squeak their way out of and into another game that their critics say, “they barely deserve”. This will be a brawl; I’ll stand on my aforementioned statement that “defenses win championships” and look for a close game and possibly a trip to Indianapolis with the Ravens.