USA TODAY Sports
Can the New England Patriots return to the Super Bowl once again? Will the Ravens get past them this time? We find out Sunday evening.
Can the New England Patriots reach the sixth Super Bowl of Tom Brady's career, or will Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens extend Lewis' Hall of Fame career for one more game? We find out today when the two teams meet in the AFC Championship Game. Use this as your open thread for discussion.
Game Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Patriots -10
RAVENS: Club has 8-5 (.615) all-time road record in postseason, highest win pct. in postseason history (minimum 10 games)...Aim for 2nd SB appearance in franchise history...In past 2 postseason games, QB JOE FLACCO has 5 TDs vs. 0 INTs & 120 passer rating. Flacco registered 5th career playoff road win last week, tied with ELI MANNING for most in NFL history. Tied NFL single-game postseason record for most touchdown passes of 30+ yards (70, 59, 32) last week. Passed for most yards (331) in franchise history in single-postseason game last week. Flacco is 1st QB in Super Bowl era to win postseason game in each of his 1st 5 seasons. In past 3 vs. NE (incl. postseason), Flacco has completed 77 of 110 passes (70 pct.) for 973 yards with 7 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 110.9 passer rating. Has 7-4 postseason record, incl. 2 AFC Championship appearances. Had career-best 3,817 passing yards in '12, 2nd-most in season by Raven. Incl. postseason, Bal. is 31-3 (.912) when Flacco has 100+ passer rating...RB RAY RICE (131) posted 2nd career 100-yard rush game in postseason last week (159 vs. NE on 1/10/10). Rice is averaging 123 scrimmage yards per game in '12 postseason. Rice (1,621) reached 1,600 scrimmage yards for 4th season in row. Led AFC RBs with 61 catches in 2012. Rookie RB BERNARD PIERCE is averaging 6.5 yards per carry in postseason (18 att., 117 yards)...WR TORREY SMITH has 5 receptions for 129 yards (25.8 avg.) with 2 TDs in 2012 postseason. In 2 career games vs. Patriots (incl. playoffs), Smith has 9 catches for 209 yards (23.2 avg.) with 3 TDs. Smith averages 24.4 yards per catch in 4 career postseason games (9 receptions, 220 yards). Smith had career-best in receiving yards (855) & TDs (8) in '12. WR ANQUAN BOLDIN is averaging 108 receiving yards per game in 2 playoff games in '12. 10 of Boldin's 11 receptions in '12 postseason have been for 1st downs. Boldin (145) registered most receiving yards in postseason game in franchise history in Wild Card vs. Colts. For career in postseason, Boldin has 41 receptions for 642 yards (15.7 avg.) with 4 TDs. KR-WR JACOBY JONES had 2nd-longest postseason TD reception in franchise annals last week (SHANNON SHARPE, 96). Ranked 1st in NFL with 30.7 KR avg. in '12. Tied league-high with 3 kick-return TDs (2 KO, 1 PR) this season...Incl. postseason, TE DENNIS PITTA has 2 TDs in past 2 vs. NE. Pitta (7) tied TODD HEAP (7 in '05) for most TD receptions by TE in franchise history this season...Defense has 7 INTs in past 4 against Patriots...LB RAY LEWIS has played in 19 career postseason games (12-7, .632). S ED REED has 8 career postseason INTs, tied for 4th-most in NFL history. S BERNARD POLLARD had team-high 98 tackles in '12...CB COREY GRAHAM became 4th Raven to register 2 INTs in playoff game last week...LB TERRELL SUGGS has 12 career postseason sacks, tied for 3rd-most since sacks became official statistic. Has 3 sacks in past 4 vs. NE (incl. postseason)...K JUSTIN TUCKER made 47-yard game-winning FG in OT last week, tied for 3rd-longest OT FG in NFL postseason history & longest ever by rookie...Club had 6 players selected to 2013 Pro Bowl (KR Jones, FB VONTA LEACH, DT HALOTI NGATA, S Reed, RB Rice, G MARSHAL YANDA).
[Ravens web site: Baltimore Beatdown]
PATRIOTS: Club is 14-3 (.824) at home in postseason...Patriots have 7-2 all-time record (4-0 at home) in Conference Championship Games...Seek 2nd consecutive Super Bowl berth & 8th overall...Head coach BILL BELICHICK & QB TOM BRADY (17) have most postseason wins by QB-head coach duo...Belichick (18) surpassed HOFer JOE GIBBS (17) for 3rd-most playoff wins all-time last week, trailing only HOFers TOM LANDRY (20) & DON SHULA (19)...Brady's 17 postseason wins are most playoffs wins by QB in NFL history. Brady (5,629) has 4th-most passing yards in NFL playoff history. Brady (41) joined Montana (45) & BRETT FAVRE (44) as only QBs to reach 40 postseason TD passes all-time. Brady (524) has most career postseason completions all-time. Has 17-6 (.739) playoff record, best postseason record as starting QB in NFL history (min. 15 starts). Brady has 5 postseason games with 300+ passing yards, trailing only PEYTON MANNING (8), HOFer JOE MONTANA (6) & KURT WARNER (6)...RB STEVAN RIDLEY rushed for 82 yards on 15 att. (5.5 avg.) with TD last week. Ridley (1,263) is 5th player in franchise history to reach 1,200 rush yards in season. Last week RB SHANE VEREEN joined ROGER CRAIG & RICKY WATTERS as only players in NFL postseason history with 2 TD catches & TD run in same playoff game. Vereen totaled 124 scrimmage yards last week (83 receiving, 41 rushing)...WR WES WELKER (61) has most career postseason receptions in club history. Welker (131) posted 2nd 100-yard career receiving game in postseason last week. WR BRANDON LLOYD (108) & Welker (142) each posted 100+ receiving yards in last meeting against Ravens (9/23/12). Lloyd posted TD reception in 1st career playoff game last week. WR DEION BRANCH (836) has most career postseason receiving yards in Patriots history...TE AARON HERNANDEZ had 6 catches for 85 yards last week...LB JEROD MAYO led club with 147 tackles in '12. LB BRANDON SPIKES has sack, INT, FF & FR in 5 career postseason games...DT VINCE WILFORK had sack in AFC Championship Game vs. Bal. last season...DE ROB NINKOVICH posted 1st career INT in playoffs last week...Club had 7 players selected to 2013 Pro Bowl (QB Brady, TE Gronkowski, G LOGAN MANKINS, LB Mayo, WR MATTHEW SLATER, WR Welker, DT Wilfork).
[Patriots web site: Pats Pulpit]