The New England Patriots are set to play the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow at 3pm ET. This is going to be an exciting matchup between the Patriots Record setting offense and the Ravens amazing defense. The last time these two teams matched up in the playoffs was in the wildcard round of the playoffs in 2009, when the Ravens stampeded the Patriots 33-14. Ray Rice was a huge difference maker in that matchup, and I expect him to be the Ravens key player on offense in Sunday. The Ravens key player on defense is predictably going to be Ed Reed. Reed hurt his ankle in last Sundays game against the Houston Texans, but he is expected to play tomorrow. He is one of the best safeties ever and if they Ravens won’t to try and stop Tom Brady, Ed Reed will be the key.
Now to the Patriots. Something important to watch will be the two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, matched up against the Ravens physical line backers. Gronkowski and Hernandez are a nightmare to cover, given their sizeand speed, so we may even see Ed Reed covering them. I think the key to the Patriots offense will be Deion Branch. He quietly caush a 61 yard touchdown pass in last weeks game against the Denver Broncos. While the Ravens will be trying to cover tightly Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, this may leave Deion Branch open make game changing plays. Although he has lost some speed with age, he is still capable of breaking off and making big plays with his feet. On defense I think the key will be Vince Wilfork. He didn’t have the best regular season of his career, but I think he can, and will, step up this post season. He will be vital to stopping the Ravens running attack, led by pro bowl running back Ray Rice. In the first play from scrimmage of the matchup against the Ravens in 2009, Ray Rice exploded for an 83 yard touchdown. We cannot afford to let up any big plays in this game. Wilfork will have to clog up the wholes and stop Ray Rice if the Patriots want to win on defense. This is going to be an exciting game and the winner will get to play in the biggest sporting event of the year. The Super Bowl.