AFC Championship: Why Tom Brady Will Be Too Much for Ravens Defense

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  (L-R) Tom Brady #12 and BenJarvus Green-Ellis #42 of the New England Patriots look on against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

There is no denying that Tom Brady is the best quarterback remaining in the postseason. 

He has three Super Bowl rings and four total appearances. Brady has amassed two regular season MVP awards as well as two Super Bowl MVP's. His accolades and record make up the resume of one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

This is precisely why come Sunday, Tom Brady will overwhelm the Ravens defense and go on to his fifth Super Bowl appearance.

The Baltimore Ravens defense will be a challenge for Brady. The Ravens will be the toughest defensive opponent Brady has gone up against since Week 8 when he faced the Pittsburgh Steelers. We all know how that game turned out for Brady and company.

However, the Ravens are not the Steelers.

They have had one of the best defenses in the league for several years. Several future hall of fame players roam that defense including Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. There is no denying that the defense is the strength of the Baltimore football team.

Yet, the Ravens aren't as young as they used to be. They certainly aren't elderly, but it is clear that they aren't as vicious as they have been in year's past. 

Baltimore was still one of the top-ranked defenses this year. They were ranked fourth overall in passing defense allowing under 196.3 yards per game to opposing offenses and their rushing defense was ranked second in the NFL allowing 92.6 yards per game. These are quality rankings, but the Ravens have not faced a passing offense of New England's caliber.

The Ravens have played three games against top-10 passing offenses all year long.

Two of those games were against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Ben Roethlisberger is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, he is not in the same league when it comes to elite passing attacks. 

The other game was against the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers were ranked sixth overall in passing yardage this league even though Philip Rivers was having one of the worst years of his career. Still, the Chargers were able to top the Ravens 34-14 with Rivers going 17 for 23 for 270 yards and a touchdown.

It would be fair to say that many would put the Patriots offense above the Chargers.

So how are the Ravens supposed to stop Tom Brady?

The Ravens were one of the top pass-rushing teams in the league, ranking third overall in sacks with a total of 48. If Baltimore plans on stopping Brady, the pass rush will be crucial. No matter how good a quarterback is, no one can throw when flat on their back.

The problem for the Ravens defensive line is that the Patriots have one of the better offensive lines in the league. They have done an excellent job for several years protecting Brady from any opposing pass rush. Even more concerning for the Ravens, the Patriots are one of the best teams in the league at making adjustments during the game.

If the Ravens are able to generate some pressure on Brady, it is very possible that New England can draw up blocking schemes to answer whatever Baltimore is throwing at them. Baltimore will have to keep their blitzes well hidden in order to confuse Brady all game long.

Again, this is all much easier said than done.

Tom Brady headed in to the postseason following one of the best postseasons of his career. Had it not been for Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees having career years as well, Brady may have picked up his third NFL MVP award this year.

He didn't slow down once he reached the playoffs.

Brady lit up the Denver Broncos for 363 yards through the air and six touchdowns. He played with intensity and it was clear that he had a chip on his shoulder.

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Patriots and Brady have received some criticism over the course of the past few years for their lack of success in the playoffs. It appears that he is finally sick of hearing that they can't win in the postseason any longer. He looks determined to carry the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.

On paper, Baltimore should be a tough matchup for Brady, but when further breaking down the Ravens' opponents, they simply have not faced anyone of the Patriots caliber. 

The Ravens will have their hands full with the Patriots dangerous dual tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Wes Welker is always dangerous underneath. And when you least expect it, Deion Branch will come up with a clutch reception. 

The Patriots are one of the toughest teams in the league to game plan against. Their multitude of weapons make them a brutal offense to stop, but the real key to their success is the quarterback.

The real reason the Patriots will blow past the Ravens is Tom Brady.