No. 4 Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens started strong, going 9-2 before losing three straight and four of their last five games of the regular season, including their Week 17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in which they rested their star players. They've been struck with injuries all season, including the loss of spiritual leader Ray Lewis (torn triceps), who will undoubtedly try and make his return in their opening playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has given the Ravens an up and down season. He's thrown for 3,817 yards and 22 touchdowns with a 87.7 quarterback rating. But where Flacco has faltered on offense, if at all, Ray Rice (1,287 yards, 9 touchdowns) has picked up the slack. The running back’s diminutive stature allows him to sneak around linemen, much like the Patriots' Danny Woodhead, and he is a fearsome player for his speed and ability to find the hole in cutback lanes. He's helped the Ravens to become the No. 11 rushing offense in the league in what has certainly been a down year for Baltimore on offense.
The Ravens' defense is led by Pro Bowl players Ed Reed, the physical and hall of fame-bound safety, and Haloti Ngata, the stout defensive tackle. As the 17th-ranked total defense, Lewis' return would surely be a boost, even if his best years are behind him.
The Ravens faced the Patriots in Week 3 of the season, beating New England 31-30 on a field goal as time expired. There were 24 penalties for 218 yards in one of the stranger contests from the replacement referee era. Both the Patriots and the Ravens suffered from the poor calls. But the Ravens managed to pile up 503 yards of total offense, with Rice running for 101 and receiver Torrey Smith catching six passes for 127 yards, including two touchdowns. Flacco had nine passes for 20 yards or more as the Ravens were able to blow the top off the Patriots' secondary.