New England Patriots: Key Factors to Cover and Attack in the AFC Championship

The New England Patriots are ready to face another challenging AFC Championship game this Sunday. You better believe this will be a battle field on the turf of the Gillette Stadium as the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens intensely express their desire to be the winner. Vince Wilfork mentioned earlier during the AFC Championship media day press conference on Ray Lewis’ impact on him: “…I am a New England Patriot and I want to win, plain and simple.”

And guess what Vince? Pats Nation wants you to win too!

Jan 22, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) celebrates at they defeat the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Ravens 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

There are so many factors in the complexity of football, but here are three key-points I believe if the Patriots cover, it will increase their chances in going to New Orleans with a Patriots 38 win over the Ravens 21 loss.

  • Time of Possession – it was really a factor in the Patriots loss in Week 3 against the Ravens, in addition to, the official’s fiasco on calling questionable calls or not calling it all. Patriots’ total time of possession was 31:03 versus Ravens’ total time of 28:57. I said it before and I will say it again, time-management is a tremendous key-factor in increasing the chances of getting a “W”. Even thought Patriots’ time of possession was greater than the Ravens, it comes down to who has possession of the ball last and executing the plays. After a 2:01 unsuccessful drive, the Patriots had to punt giving the ball back to the Ravens with 2:00 remaining in the clock. The Ravens took care of business by scoring a 27-yard field-goal with basically 2 seconds remaining to end the game.
  • Defending the Pass – only three teams recorded worse in pass defense than the Patriots. Of the 594 passing attempts; 369 were completed giving a 62.1 completion percentage for a total of 4342 net passing yards. Upon Aqib Talib debut in Week 11 against the Indianapolis Colts, right off the bat he demonstrated and reinforced the defense with tough coverage and a 59-yard interception return. There is not much to add after Coach Bill Belichick thoughts on how Aqib Talib has impacted the team.

“Very positive. He’s a good football player, good teammate, he’s very well respected because of his professionalism. He studies hard and prepares well. He’s tough. He competes well, both in practice and on Sundays. Smart kid. I like him; the team likes him. He’s a good guy to be around, and he works hard and competes well. I think those are his most impressive qualities.”

  •  Questionable Calls – let’s face it!  Even with the high-qualified officials on the field, we all know that some of the                   calls called -or lack of it- can and will determine who has the most chance of winning the game. There is no better example than the Monday Night football game featuring Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on that declared simultaneous catch call followed by one of the officials signaling a touchback and the other signaling a touchdown; but  awarding receiver Tate the touchdown. Of course they were the replacement officials, but the “real refs” are only humans too and there will be incidents that not all holdings, fumbles, pass interferences or short-downs, will be visible for their naked eyes. And even when challenging a call after a booth review, it still might not be enough to reverse. For instance, last week against the Houston Texans on that fumble, the officials ruled forward progress, which makes it unchallengeable. Another questionable call happened when Foster’s elbow appeared to be down before the ball crossed the line for a first-down completion. Clearly, the officials did not see enough evidence in that and the first down call stood. The only remedy for calls or miscall to have less of an impact in the outcome of game for the Patriots, is to add score on the board. That is a perspective that correlate to what coach Belichick has emphasized so much during the past couple weeks – we need to attack.

Paying close attention to these three key-points among so many other factors that are involved the game of football; the New England Patriots should be able to pull off another victory in the AFC Championship.

 

You should follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook

Topics: AFC Championship, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork

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