Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brady, Gronkowski Will Lead Patriots to AFC Title

The Baltimore Ravens are a good football team with a championship caliber defense that boasts two future Hall of Famers in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, one of the best running backs in the NFL in Ray Rice, and a passing game that is inconsistent but is also potentially dangerous.  They have earned their spot in the AFC Championship Game.

That said, there is nothing the Ravens can do to slow down the Patriots offense.  Wes Welker is an All-Pro wide receiver who can beat you multiple ways.  Tight end Aaron Hernandez is versatile enough to be a deep threat on the outside on one play, take a handoff on the next, and out run a linebacker on a seam route the play after that.  The offensive line has been banged up but it consistently gets the job done in keeping Tom Brady upright and in opening holes for the running back trio of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, and Danny Woodhead.  Even veteran receiver Deion Branch can still wiggle his way open down the sideline when the defense isn't paying attention.

Even with all those weapons, the Patriots best bet to win is the combination of Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski.  The 6-6, 260-pound "Gronk" is a matchup nightmare because he is too big for safeties and is too fast for linebackers.  His rare combination of size, speed, power, and hands make him the most difficult matchup in the NFL right now.  Brady and Gronk take full advantage of their plethora of offenisve options to keep defenses off balance but when Brady needs to make a big play, his eyes - and the ball - usually turn to #87.

On Sunday, with the AFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, it will be the Brady and Gronkowski show as the Pats clinch their fifth Lamar Hunt trophy of the Bill Belichick era. 

If they hand the trophy to Gronk, he is likely to spike it into the turf at Gillette Stadium and smash it to a million pieces.  It is a scene he will likely repeat in Indianapolis on February 4.  The connection between the Hall of Fame quarterback and unstoppable tight end is going to be enough to get to and win the Super Bowl.

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