The predictions are pouring in for Sunday’s AFC championship game, and the Patriots are the popular pick.
The hosts on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan and Mut & Merloni all are going with the home team. Gerry Callahan  and John Dennis  have the Pats  winning a close game, while Kevin Winter predicts a 28-17 New England win. On the midday show, Lou Merloni predicts a 34-20 game while Mike Mutnansky has the Pats winning by six. The WEEI on-air personalities are split on the NFC game, with Callahan, Dennis and Mutnansky favoring the 49ers .
Who wins Sunday's AFC championship game?
- Patriots in a close game (52%, 1,140 Votes)
- Patriots in a rout (32%, 698 Votes)
- Ravens in a close game (11%, 248 Votes)
- Ravens in a rout (2%, 43 Votes)
- Ravens in overtime (1%, 31 Votes)
- Patriots in overtime (1%, 25 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,185
While the New England media leans heavily toward the Patriots, the Baltimore media is not showing the same faith in its local team. In The Baltmore Sun , five of the seven staffers polled are going with the Patriots.
Writes columnist Kevin Cowherd, who predicts a 30-21 Patriots victory: “The Ravens go into this game with enormous confidence. But Tom Brady  to Wes Welker  is a tough combination to beat, especially at Gillette Stadium . And now the Pats actually have a running game with Stevan Ridley (1,263 yards rushing in the regular season) and Shane Vereen . The Ravens will need more than emotion from Ray Lewis ‘ “last ride” to neutralize Vince Wilfork  in the middle of the Patriots D-line, too.”
Counters columnist Peter Schmuck: “The Ravens have already proved the oddsmakers dead wrong once and now they are going to do it again. They’re on a mission and they’ve already proven they can compete with the Patriots in the postseason at Gillette Stadium. Now, it’s time to get over the hump.”
At ESPN.com , the Patriots were the pick of eight analysts: Eric Allen, Ron Jaworski, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Ditka and Cris Carter. Four individuals chose the Ravens: Mike Golic, Merrill Hoge, Chris Mortensen and Seth Wickersham.
At Yahoo! Sports , writers Mike Silver and Jason Cole have the Patriots winning, while Les Carpenter predicts the Ravens. Meanwhile, seven of the eight USA Today  staffers polled are going with the Patriots.
Following are more predictions from national writers.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated : Patriots 31, Ravens 26 — ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Baltimore wins. But I’m going New England. The Ravens have made life hard on Tom Brady in the last three meetings (two touchdown passes, five interceptions), so I don’t think he’ll hang 40-something on them — but I do think the chemistry Brady’s developed with his backs will neutralize the loss of Rob Gronkowski . And as long as Wes Welker, his third-down crutch, is healthy, Brady will be the most dangerous weapon in this game.’
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News : Ravens 33, Patriots 30 — “Much of the playoff attention on Baltimore has been on the impending retirement of Ray Lewis. But it’s been a whole lot of other players, led by Flacco and Rice, paving the way for their surprising run. They have at least one more upset in them.’
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com : Patriots 27, Ravens 24 — “I’m tempted to pick the Ravens; it just feels like it’s time for them to get back to the Super Bowl, and I’d love to see a Harbaugh-vs.-Harbaugh battle for the NFL title. But it also feels like it’s time for the Patriots to get back to the Super Bowl and win it. With the Giants  out of the mix, this could be the year to make that happen.”
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com  — Patriots 30, Ravens 20 — “Unfortunately for Baltimore, the Patriots’ defense  is playing better now than it was early in the regular season, and that’s going to be the difference this time. Flacco won’t have the same kind of passing game in the regular season, but Tom Brady will have another big performance against the Ravens’ secondary. The Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl.”
Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com : Ravens 34, Patriots 30 — “I don’t pick against New England often, but when I do, I tend to have a pretty fair success rate. And I’m cool with being called a fool. I’m also cool with picking the Ravens to win the AFC.”
Kerry Byrne, ColdHardFootballFacts.com : Patriots 27, Ravens 23 — “The Ravens know they can play with the Patriots and they will make plays in the passing game. But at the end of the day, New England’s offense, which seems so prolific no matter who’s on the field or who’s on the IR, simply has too much firepower.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald : Patriots 34, Ravens 27 — “Brady’s credentials are etched in bronze and gilded in gold, of course, while counterpart Joe Flacco  still must prove he can guide his team to a Super Bowl. So, can he? Not this time. I’d play it closer than the betting line, but Brady’s league-leading offense has too many ways to attack, and that’s even with Rob Gronkowski once again out injured.”