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Tom Brady of the New England Patriots throws a pass during the 2012 AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens Photo by: Al Bello / Getty Images

AFC Championship Game Preview - Baltimore Ravens v. New England Patriots

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Tom Brady of the New England Patriots throws a pass during the 2012 AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens Photo by: Al Bello / Getty Images

 

Even though the Patriots' secondary match up well to the Ravens' receiving weapons, they still need to execute on the day to prove it. Anquan Boldin is in great form, while Torrey Smith had a huge performance in difficult conditions when the teams met in the regular season. Throw in Jacoby Jones' big play ability and the Ravens can beat you in various ways passing the football. What really makes this offense dangerous however, is the balance they now have to take attention off of Ray Rice.

 

Rice ran for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos on 30 carries. The Patriots have a very good run defense, but Rice is the type of back who can escape from any defender at any given time. You can't go into a game expecting to shut him down or even contain him, because he is just that good of a back. Now that he has a big-play threat to spell him in the backfield, Bernard Pierce, the Ravens' rushing attack is even more fearsome than it was last season. In fact, it's possible that it is even better than it was when Willis McGahee and Rice created one of the best combinations at the position in the league.

 

To stop Rice the Patriots will need their front seven to swarm to the football and dominate in the trenches. To stop Flacco and his weapons outside, the Patriots need consistent coverage from their secondary. In other words, the Patriots need a complete team effort to contain the Baltimore Ravens today. If not, the odds on Justin Tucker missing a last second field goal aren't good for the Patriots.

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