A rematch of last season’s nail-biting AFC title game takes place Sunday night as the Baltimore Ravens host the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore nearly squeezed out a late game victory but lost 24-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles last week after quarterback Joe Flacco failed to lead the Ravens to a score on their final drive.
Flacco was 22-for-42 for 232 yards and only managed a 66.8 passer rating.
The Ravens' defense created four turnovers, including two interceptions and a lost fumble for Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, but also allowed 486 yards of total offense.
Baltimore will now focus on avoiding back-to-back losses for the first time since 2009.
New England also suffered a wrenching 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week despite being 14-point favorites on the road.
The Patriots typically unstoppable offense struggled against Arizona’s stout defense, and still nearly forced overtime, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski shanked a 42-yard field on their closing drive.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 316 yards, but went 28-for-46 with an interception, and didn’t lead the Patriots to the end zone until he hit tight end Rob Gronkowski with a 5-yard touchdown pass with 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Piling on an already difficult loss, New England also lost versatile tight end Aaron Hernandez to an ankle injury versus the Cardinals. There is no clear timetable for when Hernandez will returns to the lineup.
This could be a very emotional game for the Ravens as wide receiver Torrey Smith’s younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident Saturday night. Smith reportedly told coach John Harbaugh that he wants to play, with Harbaugh leaving it up to his young wide out.
Smith is listed as probable, but should he sit out, receiver Jacboy Jones would to take his place.
The Patriots have downgraded receiver Brandon Lloyd to out, and the same goes for defensive end Brandon Deaderick.
Betting Odds: Baltimore is favored by 3 points; Over/Under: 49.5 points
Prediction: Both teams should get their offenses back on track after disappointing Week Twos. New England has incorporated running back Stephen Ridley more into the offense, and he could be the key to a Patriots win.
Predicted Score: New England 35, Baltimore 20