Why this game is intriguing: Do you really need convincing on this one? Let's see ... It's a rematch of a classic AFC Championship Game from last season, one that featured Patriots CB Sterling Moore's game-saving pass breakup and the wide left that precipitated former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff's move to the Washington Redskins. It's a showdown of two conference superpowers who share a healthy respect (but not a lot of love) for one another. Sure, both are reeling a bit, coming off close losses in Week 2. But no one will need to manufacture emotion. Remember (now-injured) pass rusher Terrell Suggs and Tom Brady going facemask-to-facemask? Or Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis discussing his hatred for how the league protects quarterbacks like Brady? And on and on. This will be a fun one.
What to watch: After what is sure to be an interesting week of walk-up coverage of one of the AFC's most intense rivalries, there is a lot to look for on the field. Brady and Co. are fresh off a stunning loss in which Arizona stymied the normally dynamic New England offense, and the Pats will face a complex defensive scheme that has always given them problems. But with former Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees pulling the strings, these aren't the same Ravens, ranking toward the bottom of the league in total defense. Or they are, just older and more banged-up (no Suggs). Can Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels find a rhythm, even without injured tight end Aaron Hernandez? The Ravens' no-huddle offense will supremely test a new-fangled Patriots secondary that has more than impressed thus far. And don't think the Patriots won't be watching for Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, who has been present for or directly involved in all of their major injuries since 2008.