Of the eight teams still in the playoffs, there are a combined nine Super Bowl titles, and five of them came from the Patriots and Ravens. It just so happens those two postseason rivals are back at it again this year in a familiar setting.
Three times since 2009 have these teams faced each other in the playoffs in Foxborough with Baltimore winning two of them. In each of the previous two meeting, the winner went on to the Super Bowl, and the Ravens won the big game in 2013.
However, it's New England that's the favorite in this one. The Patriots opened as seven-point favorites for the game, and the line has generally held to that number, according to OddsShark.
CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco had this to say about the game:
The Ravens know how to win up there. They are tough and they get after Brady. In the three playoff games against the Ravens, Brady has three touchdown passes and seven interceptions. That's awful. He has to be better. But I think he will be.This Ravens team has issues in the secondary. So even with a good pass rush, there will be chances for Brady down the field.
Joe Flacco is now 10-4 in the playoffs and seems to elevate his game come playoff time. In the three playoff games against the Patriots, Flacco has five touchdown passes and two picks. He only threw 10 passes in one of the victories as the Ravens ran it right at the Patriots. New England was 19th in sacks per pass play this season, so there should be chances to make plays deep for Flacco, which is his strength.
The Ravens will keep this close, but in the end I think Brady will make the plays to pull the game out.
At SB Nation, all but one of our seven experts are leaning towards the Patriots.
Saturday's action ends with the Carolina Panthers heading to Seattle to take on the defending Super Bowl-champion Seahawks. This is a rematch of the Week 8 meeting won by Seattle 13-9 in Carolina. It was a game the Panthers could have easily won, and Carolina has vastly improved since then.
The Seahawks have beaten the Panthers three times in the past three years by just 13 points. The Panthers offense is much better now that Cam Newton is more healthy and playing behind an offensive line that's found its way. Still, the experts don't expect the Panthers to win in Seattle in the postseason.
Seattle is an 11-point favorite at home against Carolina, with an over/under of 39.5, per OddsShark. All 13 of the ESPN experts are in on the defending champs this week. Seven of CBS Sports' eight-man panel sided with Seahawks, and senior writer Pete Prisco had this to say about the matchup:
The Carolina defense has really improved over the past month as well. They finished 21st in scoring defense for the season, but in the past month they have been much better. The pass rush has come alive. They face a tough challenge in the Seattle running game. If they can slow that, and keep Russell Wilson in the pocket, they will have a chance.
That's tough to do. Wilson is electrifying at times when he gets outside the pocket. The ends have to be aware of their rush lanes. Cam Newton doesn't have a bevy of weapons, but Kelvin Benjamin is a big target and Greg Olsen can create problems in the middle of the field. I would look for the Panthers to attack a lot inside with Olsen. And, of course, try and run it. Like Wilson, Cam Newton can be dangerous on the move.
In the end, I think Seattle will pull this out to get to the title game. Like the last three between these teams, it won't be easy.
Over at SB Nation, all seven of their experts are going with Seattle.