As game day is fast approaching it is time to take a look at three keys to the game for the Patriots that could help guide them to a victory in Sunday’s AFC Championship game over the Baltimore Ravens. In what should be a very competitive game, one mistake could be the different between winning and losing.
Three keys to a Patriots win:
1. Contain Ray Rice
This one is pretty obvious with Rice being the Ravens biggest offensive threat, but he is the one player that single handedly knocked the Patriots out of the playoff two seasons ago, also at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defense has two options. One, they can play aggressive like they did last week against Tim Tebow and the Broncos, and crowd the box. The second being they can play their normal vanilla, sit back and prevent the big play style, which they have used most of the season. The best option to me against the Ravens would be to play the aggressive style and let Joe Flacco beat you. Keeping Rice in check is one of the biggest keys to a Patriots win on Sunday.
2. Protecting Tom Brady
The offensive line did a tremendous job in protecting Brady in Saturday’s win over the Broncos and will need to do it again Sunday in order to beat the Ravens. The Ravens have plenty of playmakers on defense in Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, all of whom can get after the quarterback. Brady is at his best when he has plenty of time in the pocket. Once he starts getting pressured is when he starts to rush things and his play suffers. If the offensive line can do their job in protecting Brady, the Patriots will be in good shape.
3. Win the Turnover Battle
This one is pretty obvious, but this postseason has shown how important it is to win the turnover battle. If the Patriots don’t turn the ball over and can force the Ravens into one or two, there is no reason why the Patriots shouldn’t win the game. The biggest one is for the Patriot offense not to turn the ball over. It was the difference in last year’s playoff loss to the Jets and the Patriots surely don’t want to have it happen again this year.