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NFL Divisional Round of the Playoffs......

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After Baltimore got gifted a win by divine providence Saturday, I'm not discounting the 'Ray Lewis' mojo anymore...but I do think the Pats win a close game. They did lose to them earlier in the season, and now have Gronk out for good but they're a better team and at home.

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CR76, I know the Pats have let you down many times, so you try and stay humble as a fan. I like that..., but this doesn't have close game written all over it. I would love for this to be as close as possible, but I don't see it right now. The Ravens have one pass rusher right now in Kruger. NE's protection has been as good as ever it seems. The Ravens have a banged up Suggs, and way passed their primes Reed and Lewis. I just don't see how Baltimore will get their stops. Add in NE rushing the ball as good as it has in how many years?

Defensively, NE has made a lot of strides. It isn't perfect, but I am not seeing them let Smith get behind their defense like he did early in the year and last week. Their run defense looks really solid too.

For this game to be close, I think Baltimore needs a few big special teams plays, and benefit from some lucky bounce or muff punt or something.

Again, I hope for a really good game, but how is Balt getting enough stops? And I don't have so much faith in Jim Caldwell putting together the perfect game plan for Flacco to go score for score with Brady.

In fairness, the Pats have had a hell of a run since their last Super Bowl win...I am hard on them sometimes, and BB in particular, but that's because I know the Brady era will be ending before much longer. Great QBs are so hard to find (and the Pats found theirs completely by accident). Just ask teams like the Dolphins. Even if Brady never wins another Super Bowl, a lot of teams would love to have had a run like his, post SB-win #3.

I would love for this game to turn out the way you say, but I've seen the Patriot offense get shut down in the playoffs before...and seen BB get outcoached...and Baltimore/NE games just seem to have a way of being close to the very end.

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In fairness, the Pats have had a hell of a run since their last Super Bowl win...I am hard on them sometimes, and BB in particular, but that's because I know the Brady era will be ending before much longer. Great QBs are so hard to find (and the Pats found theirs completely by accident). Just ask teams like the Dolphins. Even if Brady never wins another Super Bowl, a lot of teams would love to have had a run like his, post SB-win #3.

I would love for this game to turn out the way you say, but I've seen the Patriot offense get shut down in the playoffs before...and seen BB get outcoached...and Baltimore/NE games just seem to have a way of being close to the very end.

Great QBs can be hard to find, but a lot of teams are in good hands moving forward. They just so happen to be in the NFC. Right now the NFC is such a stronger conference than the AFC and part of that is why NE always looks so dominant. They have enjoyed playing 6 games against inferior teams for a decade now except for the odd year. This year it was as easy as it has ever been. But you look around and you see the QB struggles in the AFC East and in the South in Tenn and Jacksonville (maybe Houston. Schaub is nothing to right home about). The West with Oakland and KC and now San Diego. There are only about 4 solid QBs in the AFC.

The NFC has RGIII, Romo, Manning, Vick, Brees, Cam, Freeman, Ryan, Kaepernick, Wilson, Bradford Rodgers, Stafford, Cutler. So NE can do a lot of successful things because they have Brady, but I do wonder how they would fair in the NFC. After all, they went 1-3 against the NFC this year compared to 11-1 against the AFC. Playing a lot of bad teams can overrate how good you are. We see that with these "great" defensive teams like the Broncos and Texans who feast on bad teams, but really aren't that special.

So with that in mind, you have a right to question BB because it is still undetermined if NE can ever overcome a bad game by Brady. And NE needs to take advantage of the Brady years because it won't be easy anymore without him.

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I don't make too much out of the NFC thing, as far as how the Patriots played against them...they usually play just fine against NFC teams. The losses came by a total of 10 points, and the only team that they really looked bad against was San Francisco. The defense, while still suspect in my eyes, is better than it was earlier this season, when Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty were getting roasted at the corners on a routine basis. Moving McCourty to safety has saved McCourty's career...he couldn't have continued to be a corner much longer.

There is no doubt, Brady's overall phenomenal play since 2007 (187 TDs against just 45 INTs in that stretch, over what is basically 5 full seasons) has covered up a lot of Belichick ills...in Brady's last five full seasons, the Patriots have scored 589, 427, 518, 513, and 557 points...even in the year Brady missed, the Pats managed a solid 410 points. And that has covered up some God-awful play by the defense, though the acquisition of Talib has at least gotten the Patriots D back to respectable. Like I've said, I feel for Brady, because he's known a lot of weeks that he has no choice but to score 30+ for his team to win, and the fact that he has been so prolific a passer has helped the NE D immensely...teams make boneheaded "gift" plays against NE's D constantly, because they feel like they're forced to keep pace with Brady's offense.

In fairness, the offense has not been as good in recent playoff seasons as it has been in the regular season. Some of that is due to regular-season bullying that puffs up the regular season offensive numbers. But like I have said, right now, the Patriots over the last several years have morphed into Peyton Manning's Colts...a team that hasn't been living up to its regular season teases. This is a lot of the reason I have trouble feeling like any playoff game is an easy one for the Patriots. Though NE's D has made some strides this season, and is playing better than they have in years, would I trust that unit and BB with a 6-point lead and the other team having the ball with a minute-and-a-half to go? Not quite. They still make me very nervous. And even if they beat Baltimore and Brady gets playoff win #18 (incredible when you think about it, in that he will likely add to that total before he's done), but lose in the Super Bowl, there will be a lot of critics.

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Looking forward to this week's picks!!!!

Good luck CR1976, may the better team win.

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Looking forward to this week's picks!!!!

Good luck CR1976, may the better team win.

You too Manta.

I can't see this game being anything other than close, no matter how I look at it. I still don't get the 9-point spread.

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You too Manta.

I can't see this game being anything other than close, no matter how I look at it. I still don't get the 9-point spread.

I mean you have to understand the 9 point spread, right? The public would bet that spread up if it started at 7 to 9 in a matter of minutes. NE is one hell of a public team and they covered the Texans spread fairly easily.

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I mean you have to understand the 9 point spread, right? The public would bet that spread up if it started at 7 to 9 in a matter of minutes. NE is one hell of a public team and they covered the Texans spread fairly easily.

Hoping the spread goes to 10!

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I mean you have to understand the 9 point spread, right? The public would bet that spread up if it started at 7 to 9 in a matter of minutes. NE is one hell of a public team and they covered the Texans spread fairly easily.

I could understand a 7.5 point spread I suppose, but 9 does seem excessive. SF being a 4.5 point favorite on the road is a bit odd too.

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I could understand a 7.5 point spread I suppose, but 9 does seem excessive. SF being a 4.5 point favorite on the road is a bit odd too.

That is just the betting public reacting to last weekend's San Fran win. Overreacting to Kaepernick's one great game and forgetting about how awful GB's defense is. The line opened at 2.5 or 3, I'd imagine. Could never bet on a team giving 4.5 on the road. Just ridiculous.

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Conference Finals write-up, sir?

the more time I set aside for this stuff....the less I end up having :P

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Hoping the spread goes to 10!

I heard on radio that both the "smart money" and the public bet Baltimore, and that the bookies lost a large chunk of cash on that conference final.

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