AFC Championship Game 2012: Why Ravens and Patriots Are Polar Opposites

Jon DoveContributor IJanuary 22, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pss against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Today's AFC Championship Game features two teams with very different approaches to the game. Their differences is what makes this such an intriguing matchup, and a tough game to predict. The winner of this game will depend a lot on the game plan the coaches are able to develop.

Bill Belichick is known for his defensive brilliance, but the last several years the New England Patriots have won because of Tom Brady and the offense. This year, the talent gap between the offense and defense is very wide. New England enters each game knowing they must outscore their opponent, not shut them down defensively.

The Baltimore Ravens aim to control the clock and have their defense win the game. Most of the leaders are on the defensive side of the ball, such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Baltimore's biggest game-changer might be Terrell Suggs. The Ravens defense is supposed to lead this team emotionally, physically and mentally.

Offensively, these teams have vastly different approaches. The Ravens want to give Ray Rice over 25 carries and do most of their damage on the ground.

When they take to the air, Joe Flacco utilizes play-action to stretch the field with wide receivers like Anquan Boldin and and Torrey Smith.

New England basically uses the running game only to set up the passing attack. It is a rare to see Brady throw over 50 passes in a single game. That passing attack consists of underneath routes and the utilization of tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

The Baltimore Ravens defensive line has more star power than the entire Patriots defense. This unit needs to find a way to get pressure on Brady if they hope to advance to the Super Bowl. Conversely, Brady and the Patriots offense needs to find a way to move the ball against this defense.

This game will be decided by how effective Baltimore's defense is at slowing down Brady.