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Ravens' playoff hopes hinge on Rice

Quarterback Joe Flacco and middle linebacker Ray Lewis get most of the attention for the Baltimore Ravens.

But this postseason for Baltimore is about the production of Pro Bowl tailback Ray Rice.

The 2008 second-round pick has been a consistent force in an otherwise inconsistent season for the Ravens (9-7). He led Baltimore both in rushing (1,339 yards) and receptions (78).

Rice's performance Sunday against the New England Patriots (10-6) will be a strong litmus test for how successful the Ravens are on the road. The dual threat can hurt the Patriots in a lot of ways and keep Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady off the field.

"The playoffs are something else," Rice said this week. "It’s another season. Right now, you can erase everybody’s stats – erase all the rushing yards, all the 2,000 yards that I had to get to the playoffs to say that we have to start all over again, essentially, for four games."

Last week, backup Willis McGahee had his best game of the season, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Rice, as a result, got just 14 carries and said it was hard to get in rhythm with fewer opportunities.

But look for Baltimore to go back to the player Sunday that got them into the postseason. While most running backs are banged up this time of year, Rice feels he still has fresh legs.

"I think going into the playoffs right now, [with] the way my body feels, I feel great," Rice said.