We do know this much: Baltimore is an 'ok' team in 2009. New England is an 'ok' team in 2009.
This then brings about many confusing elements to the analysis heard in the media for the past week.
"Tom Brady does not lose at home in the playoffs."
"Bill Belichick has something up his sleeve that he'll use to beat the Ravens."
"Belichick will out-coach his opponent."
How are any of the above (or similar) cliches relevant to the 2009 Patriots? We've seen, with 16 games of regular season football under our collective belts, that this years version of the Pats is nothing like the prior 8 or so years.
This year's team, inclusive of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, has been different.
Tom Brady has been human when pressured. Brady has thrown horrendous interceptions due to poor decision making when receiving a pass rush.
Bill Belichick has been out-coached on many occasions, and has not appeared to have fooled any of the opposition's quarterbacks like he did so successfully in the past. Belichick had the infamous brain fart game in Indianapolis (2 years running), and has not "schemed" anything "exotic" in 2009.
Belichick has made a greater number of decisions this season which are remembered for their sour outcome, which is in direct contrast to what his coaching lore was built on.
The 2009 Patriots have been a disaster in the 2nd half in almost all of their games. Successful halftime adjustments are non-existent with the 2009 Patriots. A coaching staff which has this on its season-long resume seemingly cannot be predicted to "out-coach" anyone during the post season tournament.
With these facts established, why are analysts drowning audiences nationwide in cliches related to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriot way?
2009 has not been the "Patriots of old," so it seems extremely illogical to apply cliches developed during the past 8 or so years to this year's playoffs.
New England should win in a close affair on Sunday, but it will have nothing to do with what has happened in any year but 2009. New England will win because they are a slightly better than average team playing at home in the 2009 playoffs, against an average Baltimore team.
Anything beyond that, such as Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the franchise's success from 2000-2007, is irrelevant to the discussion and should be left where it belongs: in the past.