Are the Ravens good enough offensively for the playoffs?
EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens, as they prepare for the Patriots.
Morning buzz: This is Patriots vs. Ravens week, a big game between familiar rivals. The Ravens have played the Patriots in the last two AFC championship games. Some of the names have changed, but the intensity has not.
Both teams will have a lot at stake Sunday. The Patriots (10-4) can clinch the AFC East with a victory, and they still have a chance to be the No. 1 seed. The Ravens can win the AFC North by winning their final two games against the Patriots and Bengals. With the Ravens riding a four-game winning streak, Patriots coach Bill Belichick senses the Ravens peaking at the right time.
“I’ve spent most of the time watching their last two games,” said Belichick in a Tuesday conference call. “They had some setbacks early but lately they’ve been very impressive.”
Player in the spotlight: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady has been carrying a heavy load this season, and the load has gotten heavier with the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending knee injury. However, with all the uncertainty surrounding the Patriots, they are still 10-4. Brady knows how to win. The Ravens can’t afford to let Brady win Sunday.
Morning thought: “It’s a big stage against the No. 1 receiver in the league, so I know everyone in the world is watching. I’ve done pretty well up to this point, but when you go up against somebody like this, you want to put your best foot forward and I think I did pretty good.” – Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, talking about his Monday night matchup against Calvin Johnson.
More Ravens talk: Ravens can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday