Ravens-Patriots ready for AFC title rematch

Ravens-Patriots ready for AFC title rematch
January 19, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Ravens won't back down to big, bad Patriots

Ravens vs. Patriots

Sunday at Gillette Stadium

On TV: Ravens Kickoff pregame on CSN, 5:30, p.m. ET. Kickoff on CBS at 6:30. Ravens Postgame Live on CSN immediately after the game ends.

The favorite:Patriots -10.

Last week: Ravens (12-6) beat the Denver Broncos 38-35 in double-overtime in a divisional playoff game on the road; Patriots (13-4) beat the Houston Texans 41-28 in a divisional playoff game at home.

Series: Patriots lead, 7-2.

Last meeting: Ravens won 31-30 on Sept. 23 in Baltimore on a 27-yard FG by Justin Tucker as time expired. QB Joe Flacco completed 28 of 39 passes for 382 yards and 3 TDs, WR Torrey Smith had 6 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs and RB Ray Rice carried 20 times for 101 yards and 1 TD.

Burning question: Can Flacco continue to play error-free vs. the NFL’s second-best defense at creating turnovers?

Keys to victory on offense: The ability to run the ball with Rice and RB Bernard Pierce is crucial to not only setting up the deep ball but keeping Patriots QB Tom Brady off the field. Winning the time-of-possession battle is crucial. Flacco is averaging 20.5 yards per completion in the playoffs, which means the safeties will play deep for fear of the deep ball. That should open up the middle of the field for TE Dennis Pitta and allow Pierce and Rice to find room to run if the offensive line can win its battles up front.

Keys to victory on defense: Similar to the plan that knocked off Peyton Manning of the Broncos last week, make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket, get hits and make him move off his spot. But the other must is bottling up the run. RB Stevan Ridley only gained 37 yards in the first meeting between these teams. When the offense becomes one-dimensional and has to rely on the pass, the chances will come to make plays to create turnovers from Brady. Win the turnover battle, win the game.

Injury report: RAVENS -- Out: LB Asa Jackson (thigh); Questionable: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle/back), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), WR David Reed (thigh); Probable: S Bernard Pollard (ribs); LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), WR Torrey Smith (back), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), DE Arthur Jones (thigh/knee), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles/biceps), DT Terrence Cody (ankle), CB Chykie Brown (shoulder), WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), RB Anthony Allen (head), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), G Gino Gradkowski (head), DT Haloti Ngata (knee).

PATRIOTS –Out: TE Rob Gronkowski (out); Probable: DE Chandler Jones (ankle), CB Marquice Cole (finger), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (knee), RB Danny Woodhead (thumb).

Prediction:Ravens 24-21.

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