- President Obama poised to grant clemency to nonviolent drug offenders: report
- Teen OK after riding in wheel well of Hawaii jet
- Kraft recalls 96K pounds of Oscar Mayer hot dogs over cheese error
- Boy Scouts boots church as host after gay leadership dispute
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new book raises 2016 presidential speculation
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn: Hillary Clinton won’t be first female president
- French president accuses Syria’s Assad of gassing his own citizens
- Jimmy Carter’s grandson makes gains in governor’s race in Georgia
- Yemen: Airstrike targets al Qaeda training camps
Ravens vs. Patriots: The key matchups for the AFC championship game
When the Ravens (12-6) have the ball:
For most of his five pro seasons, RB Ray Rice (27) has been the main man on offense for Baltimore. He still is a key player, leading the team in rushing and scoring 10 TDs. But he’s not the only option, making the Ravens far more threatening with the ball than in previous years.
Indeed, when Rice struggled holding onto the ball in the wild-card win over Indianapolis, rookie Bernard Pierce (30) rushed for 103 yards.
Rice is a breakaway threat whether running or receiving, and the rapid development of WR Torrey Smith (82) has added a dimension to the passing attack of QB Joe Flacco (5). WR Jacoby Jones (12) caught the 70-yard pass to tie last week’s game at Denver at the end of regulation and provides another deep threat.
Baltimore will try to mix the quick-striking runs of Rice and Pierce with shorter passes to Rice, Boldin and TEs Dennis Pitta (88) and Ed Dickson (84). It’s the most effective, balanced offense the Ravens have had under John Harbaugh.
Flacco, the only quarterback to win playoff games in each of his first five pro seasons, has gotten exemplary protection from his line of late, led by left guard Marshal Yanda (73). If he gets it again, he’ll surely take shots against New England’s mediocre secondary. Boldin and Smith could give fits to CBs Aqib Talib (31) and Alfonzo Dennard (37), and safeties Devin McCourty (32) and Steve Gregory (28).
A DB probably will have to deal with Rice in passing situations because LBs Jerod Mayo (51), Brandon Spikes (55), and Dont’a Hightower (54) are not particularly quick. But they are smart and sound fundamentally.
New England’s best defenders are DT Vince Wilfork (75), who requires two blockers, and DE Rob Ninkovich (50), who seemingly always winds up by the ball.
When the Patriots (13-4) have the ball:
New England led the NFL with 557 points, often using a no-huddle attack that tires out defenses, while also confusing them. In two games against Houston, which supposedly has one of the league’s top units, the Patriots ran several plays in which receivers were uncovered.
You think Tom Brady (12) took advantage?
Baltimore — and anyone else — has no chance against New England if it doesn’t get pressure on Brady. The way the Giants handled the Patriots in their two Super Bowl meetings is the blueprint. That means Ravens pass rushers Terrell Suggs (55), underrated Paul Kruger (99) and Pernell McPhee (90), and even blitzing backs such as star safety Ed Reed (20) and CBs Cary Williams (29) and Corey Graham (24) must get to the two-time league MVP. Or at least force him to get rid of the ball when he doesn’t want to.
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- CURL: Shelly O first lady Michelle Obama comes in last
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- Building a D.C. memorial for an endless war bumps into regulations
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- No rush: Bob Goodlatte waits for heads to cool on heated legislation
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.