The Baltimore Ravens aren't supposed to beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Joe Flacco hasn't cemented himself as an elite quarterback yet and the Ravens just don't match up well to the Patriots. The Pats rushing defense is too good for Ray Rice and the Ravens run game.
The Patriots are definitely going to win, right? Wrong, for one reason. The Ravens have Torrey Smith.
The Patriots lost just three games in the regular season. In two of those losses they gave up huge plays down the field. In their first loss, which came against these very Ravens, the Pats gave up two pass plays over 35 yards. One of those went to Torrey Smith on a 38-yard touchdown pass, one of his two touchdowns on the day. In the Patriots' loss against the Seahawks in Week 6 they gave up three plays for over 45 yards.
When the Patriots give up big pass plays, they lose. Torrey Smith is one of the best in the NFL in the vertical passing game. In half of the games this season Smith had a catch for over 20 yards and scored eight times in the regular season.
Smith has been heating up in the playoffs. In the Divisional Round against the Broncos, Smith had 98 yards receiving, 58 coming on one bomb from Joe Flacco. Smith also added two touchdowns in the double-overtime thriller.
The University of Maryland alum is one of the emerging superstar wide receivers in the league. He's given the Ravens the ability to go deep down the field and take a little pressure off of Ray Rice. With Smith, defenses, like the Patriots, have to respect Rice's explosive running out of the backfield, which can open things up deep down the field, where Smith likes to hang out.
Smith and the Ravens match up well with the Patriots passing defense. The Pats secondary ranks 29th in the NFL, allowing over 270 passing yards per game. Because New England's defensive backfield struggles, Joe Flacco will be able to find Torrey Smith for big plays.
Smith doesn't have to put up 200 yards; all he needs is that one big play, and with Joe Flacco playing so well and Ray Rice drawing the attention of the defense, he'll get it.
The second-year wideout will be the difference for the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.