Sunday, January 15, 2012
Quick Take: Ravens at Patriots
By James Walker
Three things to know about Sunday's AFC Championship Game between the Baltimore Ravens (13-4) and New England Patriots (14-3):
It's only fitting: The Ravens and Patriots have been the best teams in the AFC all season, so it's only right that they settle it on the field to see who represents the conference in the Super Bowl. Baltimore and New England did not meet during the regular season. The teams last met in 2010 when New England won in overtime. The Patriots and Ravens also split two meetings in 2009, with New England winning in the regular season and Baltimore winning in the playoffs.
Quarterback disparity: New England's biggest advantage will be at the most important position: quarterback. The Patriots have Tom Brady, who is coming off an NFL-playoff record six touchdown passes and 363 yards passing against the Denver Broncos. Brady is peaking at the right time. Meanwhile, Baltimore counterpart Joe Flacco is inconsistent. Flacco had another shaky postseason outing against the Houston Texans on Sunday, completing 14 of 27 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Clearly, Flacco must play better at New England.
Patriots' D needs to keep momentum: Was it New England's defense, or was it the opponent? The Patriots played their best defensive game of the season, holding the Broncos to just 10 points and 252 yards. New England baffled Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, holding him to 136 yards passing and sacking him five times. New England will be tough to beat if its defense maintains this level of play. Of course, the Ravens have more dynamic weapons on offense and present a stiffer challenge than the Broncos.