New England Patriots Should Be Wary of the Baltimore Ravens
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This sets up an unexpected rematch of last season's AFC Championship game between the Ravens and Patriots, a game New England won 23-20, recapped in this story from Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press.
It's a rematch that the Patriots should be very wary of.
Last seasons' playoff game was decided by a last-second touchdown pass being dropped by Baltimore's Lee Evans in the end zone and a missed field goal by Ravens' kicker Billy Cundiff, sending the Ravens home and the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore looks like destiny's team this year, playing with emotion from the impending Ray Lewis retirement and the fact that no one expected them to advance this far in the playoffs.
The pressure will be squarely on the Patriots, leaving the Ravens to come in and play with abandon.
Who will win the AFC Championship Game?
Baltimore has been here before, against New England in fact, coming to Gillette Stadium in the 2010 playoffs and beating a favored Patriots team 33-14 at home, detailed in this report from ESPN.
The Ravens also won this year's Week 3 thriller against the Patriots, 31-30, on a fourth-quarter field goal by Justin Tucker. In that game, the Ravens racked up over 500 yards of offense against the Patriots defense.
Baltimore will pose a matchup problem for the Patriots, from the running of Ray Rice, the receiving of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, even the passing of Joe Flacco.
In the past two games between the teams, Flacco has actually outplayed Tom Brady, throwing for 688 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and completing 50 of his 75 passes against the Patriots' defense.
The Ravens will not be intimidated by the Patriots, not with their recent history against the Patriots and their stunning victory over the Broncos fresh in their minds.
The Patriots will also be without Rob Gronkowski, as ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news that Gronkowski broke the same arm that he had broken in November. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio is reporting that Gronkowski will need surgery.
The Patriots and Ravens will add a new chapter to their rivalry come Sunday night.
If it is anything like their recent history, it should make for a great football game.
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