Ravens vs. Patriots: 4 Role Players Who Should Have a Huge Impact

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIJanuary 22, 2012

Ravens vs. Patriots: 4 Role Players Who Should Have a Huge Impact

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    Games may be won by each team's top playmakers, but ultimately the "little" role-players are the ones who step up and rise to the occasion to help contribute to a team victory.

    This Sunday, at 3 p.m., the AFC Championship will feature the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots—two very talented rosters that are filled with role-players. 

    With that said, let's take a look at four role-players who will have a huge impact in Sunday's AFC Championship Game. 

Dennis Pitta

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    Dennis Pitta may have only had two receptions for 29 yards last weekend against the Houston Texans, but if the Baltimore Ravens are going to win the AFC Championship, then Baltimore's second tight end is going to have to have a huge impact. 

    Pitta has reeled in 40 passes this season while scoring three touchdowns. He's going to have to duplicate his regular-season success for the Ravens in order to knock off the New England Patriots. 

Danny Woodhead

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    Danny Woodhead is the New England Patriots' third-down running back who is brought in on not only third-downs but also in passing situations when New England goes to their fast-pace, no-huddle offense. 

    Woodhead may have only scored one touchdown this season, but he was effective last Saturday against the Denver Broncos; he ran for 25 yards on just four carries. 

Jimmy Smith

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    Jimmy Smith may be only a rookie, but he'll be thrown right into the mix against the New England Patriots as the Baltimore Ravens' nickelback.

    It's no secret the Patriots are going to spread out Baltimore's defense, which will cause Smith to have his share of snaps Sunday.

    Smith will likely be lining up against guys like Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, so he is certainly going to have his hands full—very full for a rookie. 

Mark Anderson

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    Andre Carter was the New England Patriots' top pass-rusher this season, but now that role falls into the hands of Mark Anderson.

    Anderson is a pure pass-rusher who will need to put a lot of pressure on the inconsistent Joe Flacco and also step up as a run-stopper against the very explosive Ray Rice.