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Ravens vs. Patriots: matchups

By Barry Wilner

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 19 2012 2:40 p.m. MST

Also worrisome for the Ravens is how Houston ran the ball on them a week ago. The Patriots don't rely heavily on the run, but if BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) and Danny Woodhead (39) are being successful, it sets up Brady for even more big plays.

Ngata will try to disrupt the middle of the Patriots' solid O-line, where C Dan Connolly (63) and guards Logan Mankins (70) and Brian Waters (54) will be tested. If he does so, Baltimore has a far better chance of slowing down Brady's aerial show.

Special Teams

Coach John Harbaugh has a special teams background, and with PK Billy Cundiff (7) and P Sam Koch (4), he has to feel comfortable. Cundiff missed some games with a calf injury, but has recovered.

Baltimore's coverage and return teams are nothing spectacular, with Webb the most reliable as a punt returner.

New England has no qualms about having Stephen Gostkowski (3) try critical kicks. While he hasn't made them forget Adam Vinatieri, Gostkowski is steady enough to not worry Patriots fans. P Zoltan Mesko (14) is a lefty kicker and the ball can act funky off his foot.

Belichick also has a special teams background and his coverage groups are trustworthy.

Coaching

Harbaugh has guided the Ravens to the postseason in all four of his years as coach; by contrast, Belichick did that only once in his first four of five seasons as coach of the franchise when it was still the Cleveland Browns. For the first time under Harbaugh, Baltimore won the AFC North and got a home playoff game.

Harbaugh knows his team must push it against Belichick, the game's most successful coach since Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs were on the sideline in their primes. The Ravens have been taught to do what they do best and dare someone to stop them. Belichick and the Patriots can be more devious — and more versatile.

While Harbaugh has been this far only once, losing to Pittsburgh for the 2008 AFC crown, Belichick makes a habit of reaching conference title games.

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