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Belichick: Ravens are tough, familiar foe

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff  January 17, 2012 01:10 PM

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick has seen a good bit of the Baltimore Ravens, with four games between the teams in the past four seasons. The Patriots have had the upper hand overall, leading the series 6-1, but the Ravens have won the only playoff meeting, coming two seasons ago (33-14) at Gillette Stadium.

None of the seven previous games had as much on the line as Sunday's does, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.

"They’re obviously one of the best teams in the league, they’re very well put together, and it starts at the top," Belichick said today during his weekly media teleconference. "A lot of outstanding players, they’re well coached, they play well. They’re a really good football team, as evidenced by the last four seasons, they’ve made the playoffs each of those seasons."

Belichick was quick to point out that the Ravens are strong on both sides of the ball, singling out quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice, and defensive standouts Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, calling the duo future guaranteed Hall of Famers.

"They’re a very consistent team, a very good team. all the way around," Belichick said. "It’s a big week for us. We played them almost a year and a half ago now, [so] a lot of familiar faces, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do."

The last time the teams met was Oct. 17, 2010, a game won in overtime by the Patriots in Foxborough, 23-20.

Defensive backs coach Josh Boyer also spoke with the media, and answered numerous questions about the position versatility shown by some of his players, including Devin McCourty, who has bounced from cornerback (his natural position) to safety the past two games.

"Devin, like all of our guys, has some position flexibility," Boyer said. "I think he’s worked very hard in the film room and on the practice field, trying to improve his techniques. Some things that haven’t gone so good, we work hard on those, and then when things do go well we try to improve upon those.

"From a position flexibility standpoint, we have a lot of guys that have done some of the stuff that Devin’s doing. Sterling’s [Moore] had some position flexibility for us, as well as Patrick Chung, Kyle [Arrington] included in that mix. They’re very aware of what’s going on."

Nick Caserio, the team's director of player personnel, said there were no roster moves to announce -- at least not yet. "I don't really have anything for you today, but it's early."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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