With the Patriots’ 45-10 victory over the Broncos last night and the Ravens’ 20-13 victory over the Texans earlier today, the AFC championship game is set for next week with the Pats hosting the Ravens at Gillette Stadium at 3 p.m. ET on CBS. The game will pit the AFC’s #1 and #2 seeds in its culminating game, sending one of these two teams to the Super Bowl. The Patriots have not played the Ravens this season but did play them last year in Week 6 of the regular season. The Patriots won that game in overtime 23-20 at home.
The Ravens will come to Gillette Stadium without any fear of not having home field advantage. In the 2009 playoffs, the Ravens came to Foxborough on Wild Card weekend and walloped the Patriots, 33-14. RB Ray Rice took the ball 83 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game and the Ravens’ defense harassed Tom Brady for much of the game. Brady threw 3 picks and fumbled once. He will certainly be looking to avenge that performance next Sunday.
But what about this year? The Patriots’ potent offense will face a stiff test against the league’s #2 ranked rush defense and #4 ranked pass defense. Safety Ed Reed appeared to injure his ankle against the Texans on the last play of the game but said afterwards that he was fine. His health figures to play an important role as he’s one of the best, if not the best, safety in the NFL and has the utmost respect from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The game will be a classic matchup of strength versus strength.
The Ravens haven’t been at their best on the road. While they were 8-0 at home, they were 4-4 on the road, even losing to lowly Jacksonville. Will that play a role in the game Sunday? We shall see Sunday.