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Ravens visits Patriots in AFC Championship Game 2012

Tom Brady of New England PatriotsJournalist Jason Whitlock sees the AFC Championship Game this weekend between Baltimore and New England as a culture war. Whitlock doesn’t mean Baltimore’s third in the League defense against the Patriots’ second in the League offense. Whitlock talks about the Showtime NBA rivalry but there is a subtext in his piece that suggests the game is a contest between bad boy Baltimore and apple pie New England.

Well, you can look at that another way too. New England has got a name for being a little bush league in the way they go about their business. There was the spying thing of some years ago, and was their really a need for Tom Brady to rub Denver’s noses in it last week by punting out of a passing formation with three minutes left and a thirty-five point lead? Was that really necessary?

Baltimore isn’t the sexiest team in the NFL but it’s never pretended to be anything other than it is, either in its modern franchise of the Ravens or going back to its history when the Colts were in Baltimore and Johnny Unitas drank his beer and his shot with ordinary working stiffs. In the real world, it’s not always easy to tell who really are the good guys.

The great news for people who like sports betting is that you don’t have to care about any of that. You only want to know who’ll win and, more importantly, who’ll cover.

The NFL gambling line for this weekend is Patriots -7.5. It opened at -8, but it’s been under pressure all week as a lot of thoughtful money is tempted by the Ravens and the points.

There’s no question about who’s better between Tom Brady and Joe Flacco. No question. But the Texans’ defense is a serious outfit and maybe they made Flacco look worse than he actually is. Certainly they’re a better outfit than the Patriots, who have the second worst defense in the league. The team with the worst defense in the League, the 15-1 Green Bay Packers, are now watching the rest of the playoffs on TV, their practical interest in who’ll win Super Bowl XLVI having been brought to an end by the Giants.

Then again, the Patriots offense is frightening. The Baltimore defense is great and has been for years, but one of the things we learned this year is that defenses grow old quickly. Ask them in Pittsburgh. They know. If Baltimore can’t get after Brady, like they did in the playoffs two years ago, he will chop them up like iceberg lettuce. What a game it’s going to be.

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