A roundup of how folks at ESPN are picking Sunday’s playoff game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots are favored by 3½ points.
ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss: Patriots 20, Ravens 17. In a game that could go in either direction, the Tom Brady-led Patriots will find a way to get it done.
ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg: Patriots 23, Ravens 20. It's been 23 months since Tom Brady walked off the field in Glendale, Ariz. following the Patriots' shocking loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots probably don't have the talent (or health) for a trip to Super Bowl XLIV, but it's hard to imagine No. 12, he of the perfect 8-0 postseason record in Foxborough, settling for a one-and-done after waiting this long for another taste of playoff football.
Bill Simmons: Patriots 24, Ravens 16. The Pats were a smoke-and-mirrors team to some degree; they didn't play one great game against a good team, struggled mightily against the pass and were predictable offensively. It had all the makings of one of those "we just didn't have it" years, but everyone was overrating them as a contender. Now, Wes Welker's soul-crushing injury and news of Brady's various injuries restored the natural order for them: They went from overrated and undefinable to slightly underrated and definable. They're the banged-up, grind-it-out, everyone's-underestimating-us, teeming-with-pride Patriots again. The crowds have been spotty for the past few years, but I'm expecting a monster effort Sunday. Everyone loved Welker: players, coaches, fans, everyone. The rest of the season is for him. Too bad it probably won't last past next week.
Tedy Bruschi: Patriots 24, Ravens 17.
ESPN's experts: Five of the eight pick the Patriots to beat the Ravens.
Sunday Countdown: Cris Carter, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson pick the Patriots. Mike Ditka picks the Ravens.
Hank Goldberg: Takes Baltimore (with the points). Looking for the Baltimore running game to keep them alive in this one and at least keep it close. The one thing you should know, this is not the old New England team. Yes they are 8-0 at home and with Brady they are 8-0 in home playoff games, but only 4-3-1 against the point spread in home playoff games with Brady.
Mike and Mike: Mike Golic predicts the Patriots will really miss Wes Welker, but still thinks they’ll beat the Ravens. Mike Greenberg also takes the Patriots.
Herm Edwards: Patriots 24, Ravens 17. “We’re talking about a team, the New England Patriots, that can score a lot of points, and I think they score big this week.”
Mark Schlereth: Picks the Patriots. “One thing we know about New England is they don’t lose playoff games at home.”
Madden simulation: Patriots 31, Ravens 17.
AccuScore simulation: Partriots 25, Ravens 23
Pick all of this weekend's playoff games yourself in our Gridiron Playoff Challenge.