Sunday, January 20, 2013
Welcome to Gillette Stadium
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Welcome to Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens meet in an AFC Championship Game rematch (CBS, 6:30 p.m.):
A few hours before gametime, the goal posts on the Patriots' practice field were swaying in the wind.
Wind could be a factor. The current temperature is an unseasonably warm 54 degrees, but current winds are sustained around 25 miles per hour, and gusting up to 40 m.p.h. The forecast calls for those winds to dissipate slightly by kickoff, but they could still be strong enough to play a role in the kicking game. Meanwhile, temperatures are expected to drop considerably, into the mid-to-low 30s as the game progresses. There is no precipitation in the forecast, and any clouds are expected to clear out by game time.
Super Bowl XLVII trip at stake. With the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons squaring off at 3 p.m. for the NFC Championship, the winner of this game will know their opponent in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, on Feb. 3. If the Patriots punch their ticket to a second consecutive Super Bowl, there will be a trophy presentation on the field after the game. If the Ravens win, the Lamar Hunt trophy presentation will take place in their locker room. There are seats reserved in the press box today for two scouts from each of the 49ers and Falcons.
Leavy gets the call. Veteran official Bill Leavy, in his 18th NFL season, is today's referee. This is second Patriots game he will officiate this season. On Nov. 11, Leavy flagged the Patriots and Bills for a combined 21 penalties.
All clear on injury front. The Patriots listed just five players on their final injury report of the week, and all were probable for today's game, including defensive end Chandler Jones. Both teams will have to declare seven players inactive by roughly 5 p.m., or 90 minutes prior to the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Country feel to anthem. Country music trio Gloriana will perform the national anthem today, while the Watertown, Mass. Police Dept. is providing the honor guard.