With the NFL Playoffs now underway in Cincinnati, what better time to look at the Patriots’ chances of winning it all?
Unfortunately, whilst anything can happen in the next month, things don’t look so great for the Pats. In the final regular season game in Houston, Wes Welker was injured making a simple cut he’s made hundreds of times to try and shake off defenders. Welker led the NFL in the regular season with 123 catches despite missing time at the beginning of the season and the rest of the Texans game. He’s a key part of the Patriots offense. Whilst it’s clear that the slot receiver position in this offense leads to a lot of catches (Julian Edelman stepped into Welker’s role and had 10 catches for 103 yards) Welker is a special player and excels in that role. Edelman on the other hand is a serviceable replacement, but not much more despite having a similar skill set to Welker.
Looking ahead to the Ravens game tomorrow, the Patriots offense has to find a way to work around the loss of Welker (avoiding Ed Reed’s hands on the way) and score some points because players like Ray Rice can make a play for the Ravens at any time. Rice is fast, hard to tackle and a duel threat running or receiving, which brings me on to the Patriots defense. As well as Rice, Willis McGahee is in good form. 167 yards and 3 TDs was what the Raiders defense held him to last week (although I’m sure Hiram Eugene could have done a lot more to stop McGahee’s 77 yard run to the endzone). If the Ravens can run on the Patriots like they have against teams like Oakland, it will be a tough one for the Patriots but I think they can win this game.
My Prediction: Ravens 24 – 31 Patriots