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Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots renew rivalry

The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens face off in a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game on "Sunday Night Football," a contest in which Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork believes the Pats will have to "match" the intensity of Ray Lewis and Co.

The Ravens have quickly replaced the Indianapolis Colts as the chief annoyance of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the crew. Sorry New York Jets, playoff meetings carry weight here.

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"It's a rivalry," Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork told the Boston Herald on Friday. "It's almost like a division game. We've played so much. We've played some pretty tough football games that mean something at the end. We know that. They know that.

"If you like playing in a tough, physical football game, well, here it is. (Tonight) will be one, because that's the way they want to play and we're gonna have to match that intensity."

The two teams don't play in the regular season often, but a pair of playoff meetings over three seasons have linked the two organizations. The Ravens, also, nearly killed the Patriots undefeated 2007 season losing by a field goal, a 27-24.

"When they kicked out tails -- when they embarrassed us," Wilfork said about the start of the rivalry, a 33-14 Ravens' playoff win in 2009. "And they did a pretty good job of embarrassing us that year. ... From that day on, it's been, like, you know what, we have to mark them on the calendar, just like I'm sure they mark us on the calendar.

"Over years, you develop that. It's like a division game. It's like the Steelers. (The Steelers) are like a division game because we're always playing them. We know each other so well, and when you play a team a lot, and they're a good team, that's when it starts."

Both teams could use an early season win, too. The Patriots were upset by the Arizona Cardinals last week and surely want that taste out their mouths. The Ravens let one get away in a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The loser falls to an ugly 1-2.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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