FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick looked at ease during his final pregame press conference before Sunday's AFC Championship game, saying that it will take a strong game from his team to beat the Ravens and advance to Super Bowl XLVII -- as it should be.
"I think the players have done a good job this week, they’ve worked hard to get the scouting report, and new information on the Ravens, practiced well, good energy, I think the team is excited to play," Belichick said before Friday's practice. "If you can’t get excited for the AFC Championship game, I don’t know what you can get excited for.
"This is what we’ve worked all year for, this opportunity, and I know that everybody wants to make the most of it. The attitude is good, we’re looking forward to playing a great football team, going out there and knowing we need to play our best to beat them. But that’s the way it should be."
Counting Sunday, the Patriots and Ravens will have played six games since the start of the 2009 season. The Patriots have won three of the past five, but all have been close: 27-21 on Oct. 4, 2009, and a pair of 23-20 victories, in 2010 and in last year's AFC Championship game. The Ravens two wins in that span: 33-14 at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 10, 2010 in a wild-card playoff game, and 31-30 earlier this season.
Belichick said he's prepared for another close, tough game.
"As I said at the beginning of the week, we have a lot of respect for that organization. They win a lot of games, they’re in the playoffs, they win playoff games. We’ve had some great battles with them; we’ve won some, they’ve won some, most of them have come right down to the wire, very competitive, they’re a tough, hard-nosed football team that’s hard to beat, and we respect that challenge.
"We know that’s what will be out there on Sunday: We’ll get their best, they’ll get ours, both teams have had a lot of success, both teams have a lot of confidence. It’s a great matchup."