It will be a tough game, as they usually are between these two. The best place to look for the answer I believe will be the QB matchup. It seems cliche, yes, but the fact is this is closer than one might think.
Here are some stats from the last five matchups between the teams.
108/167, 1271 yards, 64.6% CMP, 7.7 YPA, 9 TD/4 INT, 56.1 QBR
121/195, 1278 yards, 62.1% CMP, 6.6 YPA, 5 TD/7 INT, 58.1 QBR
Who is who? Hard to guess right? Now try again with these:
76/118, 855 yards, 64.4% CMP, 7.3 YPA, 6 TD/2 INT, 56.7 QBR
93/154, 943 yards, 62% CMP, 6.1 YPA, 4 TD/7 INT, 51.1 QBR
How about now? Who would you want in this game?
To end the suspense, QB1 is Flacco and QB2 is Brady. As you can see, Flacco has been able to keep up with and even outplay Brady to an extent in their games during his career.
What makes it more surprising is how only one time has the game between these teams been in Baltimore, meaning Flacco has done most of this on the road, where Brady and his Pats usually play so well. That second stat set is actually Flacco's* road stats and Brady's home stats in their meetings. As you can see, overall in those games Flacco actually has played better than Brady in relatively all facets.
A huge stat worth noting, that out of any could be the biggest difference is the YPA, or yards per attempt. This stat indicates at how well a QB is doing at getting the ball down the field. Flacco has Brady handled in this regard for sure, posting a 7.7 average (7.3 road) while Brady has only gotten a 6.6 average (6.1 at home). This means in their games Flacco has been able to consistently hit deeper passes than Brady.
Even in Brady's best game (this year's matchup) Brady averaged 8.2 YPA (great number), but Flacco was even greater with a 9.8 YPA (basically he averaged a first down for every attempt).
This stat indicates that Flacco can hit deep on this team often, so whether it is early or late in the game New England will need to be prepared for him to strike, especially since their weakest point is in the secondary. Not to say New England won't have its own chances to do so (Baltimore's CBs are nothing special), but the stats indicate they won't do it with the same veracity as Baltimore.
Even with all of these factors that the Ravens have on their side, it is just so difficult to go against Tom Brady here. I've struggled all week with the decision, debating whether all of the Ravens' positive factors coming in, matched up with the trend their recent games against these Patriots tends to go, will be enough to pull out a win.
In making my final choice, I looked back to their matchup from this season one more time.
The Ravens came into that game with more of their top defenders still intact, especially at CB. The Patriots were without one of their top TEs in Aaron Hernandez, but they did have Gronk. The Ravens came in with two huge emotional factors for that game too, just like in this one: First matchup since "dropping" the Championship Game, as well as the emotional blow felt for their teammate Torrey Smith, who had just lost his brother in the past 24 hours before the game.
With all of that going into the game, a lot ended up happening; Smith went off with 6 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs, Flacco had a great day overall and outplayed Brady. The Ravens held the offensive edge with 503 total yards to 396 yards, and slowed the good rushing attack of NE for 77 yards total.
Even with all of that, though, it took a 27-yard field goal with no time on the clock (and it's debatable whether it even stayed in the uprights) to get the win for them. At home, where they are much better.
The fact is that this game now is set to be similar; a shootout with a few timely defensive plays. The factors are in essence the same, but with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. I just think Brady will do what needs to be done to win, no matter what Flacco and his Ravens do. Patriots take a close one.
New England Patriots 27
Baltimore Ravens 24
*Excludes 2009 playoffs, since Flacco basically just handed off to Ray Rice and threw only 10 passes in a blowout win