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Friday, January 7, 2011
Final Word: Ravens-Chiefs

By James Walker

Wild-card Final Word: NY Jets-Indy | Baltimore-K.C. | N.O.-Seattle | G.B.-Philadelphia

Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's Ravens-Chiefs wild-card game:

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis
Baltimore's Ray Lewis leads the NFL's No. 5 run defense against Kansas City's Jamaal Charles.
Road warriors: Historically, the Ravens have not been fazed by playing on the road in the postseason. The Ravens (6-3) are tied with the Carolina Panthers (4-2) for the best road playoff winning percentage (.677) since 1960. Baltimore has another tough assignment playing in Kansas City. The Chiefs are 7-1 this year at Arrowhead Stadium, which is one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.

Stopping Charles: Baltimore also has a tall task of slowing down Kansas City's running game, led by Pro Bowl tailback Jamaal Charles. Charles rushed for 1,467 yards this season and averages an impressive 6.4 yards per carry. Charles rushed for more than 170 yards in a game twice. But Baltimore boasts the NFL's fifth-best run defense, allowing just 93.9 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry. It will be an interesting clash of strengths.

The third phase: An under-rated part of Baltimore's success this season has been its stellar play on special teams. Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff made 26 of 29 field goals and tied an NFL record with 40 touchbacks. Punter Sam Koch averaged 43.6 yards per kick, including 39 punts inside the 20, and rookie receiver David Reed averages 29.3 per kickoff return. Winning the third phase of the game is important in the playoffs and could bode well for Baltimore.