As the dust continues to settle with the Te’o controversy, NFL players are preparing to go to battle in their respective conference title games, including the Ravens, who travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in a rematch of epic proportions.
If Baltimore can overcome the 10-point favorite Patriots’ home field advantage, Joe Flacco will quiet the naysayers that say he can’t get it done when it counts, and Ray Lewis will have a chance to leave a champion holding the Lombardi trophy as he walks out on a 17-year career.
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino gave his AFC and NFC title picks to 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny on Thursday, and you’ll be surprised which quarterback he believes will rise above the fray.
“Baltimore has played two games that were really brutal, long games and have 187 plays on defense in the last two weeks,” Marino said. “They did a really good job of protecting him there in Denver. If they can do that, where he does not have people in his face, and plays a perfect game, then they can go up there and win.”
“They definitely can beat the Patriots.”
Marino added that the Ravens need to continue to be aggressive out of the gate to ensure a victory in hostile territory, throwing on first downs to get Flacco into a rhythm early.
“He produced pretty much in all four quarters,” Marino said. “Last year they were a dropped pass and missed field goal away from going to the Super Bowl.”
Marino credited the Patriots with running the football better than people acknowledge, which could give a dinged up Ravens linebacking corps fits.
On the NFC side of the ball, no. 13 thinks the 49’ers are an unstoppable force, and the Falcons are the last distraction standing in their way.
“I think the 49’ers are just in that space right now,” he said.
When asked if he thinks Manti Te’o’s NFL aspirations are squashed if he proves to be the culprit of this alleged dead girlfriend controversy, Marino said it will be his talent on the field that decides that.
“What he did, if it’s true and all that, it’s not the right thing, but he hasn’t really hurt anyone, that’s for sure.”
He said the NFL already does extensive interviews with potential NFL’ers and background checks; they’ll just dig a little deeper with Manti.
“If you’re a great player and you’re going to be an NFL player, you’re still going to have your opportunity to get drafted.”