The AFC top-seeded New England Patriots will face the six-seeded Baltimore Ravens in Gillette Stadium in next week’s Divisional Round game following the Ravens’ 30-17 handling of the Le’Veon Bell-less Steelers in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
It’s arguably the most dreaded matchup for Patriots fans, many of whom remember the Patriots’ AFC Championship defeat against Baltimore in 2013.
This year’s Ravens squad is not that team, but they could nonetheless prove a worthy foe next Saturday. Pressuring Tom Brady has always been key to beating the Patriots, and Baltimore boasts a strong pass rush that could give New England’s offensive line fits if they get going.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco quietly had a career year in 2014, throwing for 27 touchdowns against 12 interceptions and completing 62.1 percent of his passes. Flacco completed 18-of-29 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on Saturday.
Late-blooming breakout running back Justin Forsett became the Ravens’ lead back this year after Ray Rice was cut, rushing for 1,266 yards with a league-leading 5.4 yards per rush.
The Patriots’ home-field advantage is likely to mean little in this matchup, as the Ravens have proven themselves a formidable foe here time and time again. The teams first met here in 2009, with the Ravens crushing the Patriots 33-14 in a Wild Card matchup.
The Patriots would narrowly avoid a second post-season defeat at the Ravens’ hands two years later, but were able to win in overtime and advance to the Super Bowl after Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff’s field goal attempt late in regulation went wide.