Baltimore Ravens – Keys to Victory

In order for the Baltimore Ravens to beat the New England Patriots, their three most important players are quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Joe Flacco isn’t usually considered to be among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but he has held his own over the years in the postseason with a 7-4 record since 2008 and even more impressive are his five wins on the road, including a fantastic 331 yards, three touchdown performance against the Denver Broncos last week.

With five road wins, he has more postseason away wins than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Young and Troy Aikman.Only Eli Manning has as many road playoff wins as Flacco, and only Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have more postseason wins than Flacco during their first five seasons in the league.

From Flacco to his deep target receivers, and especially Torrey Smith. It was a special night in Baltimore when Smith caught 6 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots just after losing his brother in a motorcycle accident. Against the Broncos, Smith was once again fantastic, catching 3 passes, scoring two touchdowns of 59 and 32 yards. Remember, the Patriots have the 29th ranked pass defense in the NFL, and if Ray Rice gets going early and the play-action starts working, Smith and Boldin become huge factors in this game.

Their biggest playmaker on defense is Terrell Suggs, not Ray Lewis. Suggs has 12 sacks in 13 career postseason games, the most in the NFL since 2008, and on his way to reach 17, the all-time best in the postseason. The Ravens have registered multiple sacks in 10 consecutive games, but Tom Brady is one of the hardest-to-reach QBs in the NFL. If the Ravens’ pass-rush can make life harder for Brady, like they did a year ago, things will be much easier for them.