Championship Sunday: Baltimore Ravens scouting report

After two rounds of postseason play, four teams remain in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. On Championship Sunday, two teams will punch a ticket to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII. has prepared a comprehensive scouting report for each of the surviving squads.



The setup

The Baltimore Ravens wanted this AFC Championship Game rematch with the New England Patriots. The Ravens continue to be fueled by the "last ride" of soon-to-retire linebacker Ray Lewis. "If we go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win it there," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "It's another matchup that we're excited about and hopefully we can get it done this year."

Player to watch

Joe Flacco, QB: How clutch has he been? Flacco is the only quarterback in the playoffs averaging more than 20 yards per completion. He's thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions in two playoff games. And he's playing with confidence. Can it continue? It's not like playoff success is foreign to Flacco; he's the first quarterback in NFL history to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons.

Under pressure

Ravens' pass rush: The Baltimore defense turned up the heat on Peyton Manning in the second half of Saturday's divisional-round matchup with the Denver Broncos and changed the game, with Terrell Suggs contributing two sacks. The Patriots led the league in scoring (34.8 ppg) and turnover differential (plus-25) this season. There's no doubt that disrupting Tom Brady and forcing him to make mistakes is No. 1 on the Ravens' to-do list.

Matchup to watch

Ravens WR Torrey Smith vs. Patriots' pass defense:The Ravens are 11-2 when Smith catches a touchdown pass, including a 1-1 record in the postseason. He had two scores against the Broncos: one for 59 yards, the other a 32-yarder on which he made a terrific adjustment. The Patriots know Smith is dangerous. In the Ravens' Week 3 win over the Pats, Smith caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns -- less than 24 hours after his younger brother had died in a motorcycle accident.

Did you know?

If the Ravens win, Flacco will have six career road playoff victories, the most in NFL history. Flacco is currently tied with Eli Manning at five apiece. ... Suggs has 12 career postseason sacks, tying him with Reggie White for third-most all time, behind Bruce Smith (14.5) and Willie McGinest (16). ... The Ravens have won two straight playoff matchups after going 1-3 in their final four regular-season games. Since 1990, just Baltimore and the New Orleans Saints (in 2009) have won more than one playoff game after dropping three of the last four regular-season games.

How the Ravens will win...

The Ravens are trying to do what no team has done to the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots -- beat them twice at Gillette Stadium in the playoffs. (Their other win came in the wild-card round in 2009.) The Ravens will rely on their experience against the Pats -- they won't be daunted -- and on emotion, led by Lewis. If Flacco and the Ravens' secondary (Corey Graham had two picks in Denver) continue to come through in the clutch, Baltimore will go to New Orleans.

How the Ravens will lose...

The Ravens are riding emotion and playing their best football of the season, but they'll be in trouble if they lose that emotional edge and fail to account for Wes Welker. A key in Denver: The Ravens never fell behind by more than one score. They won't want to play catch-up in Foxborough.

The pick

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