Patriots vs. Ravens: 3 things to watch

James Ihedigbo could be a surprise star for the Pats Sunday.

Metro gives you three things to look for this Sunday as the Baltimore Ravens invade Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots for the AFC championship and a trip to Super Bowl XLVI (3 p.m., CBS):

1. Bump ’n grind

The over/under for Sunday’s Patriots-Ravens game is 50.5, and if I were a betting man, I might be leaning towards the under.

Why?

Well, for one, the Ravens defense is the real deal. While they won’t shut down the Patriots offense, reaching 30 points will be an extremely tough task. In fact, the Ravens have touched 30 points just once since Week 8.

This game will be a grind on both sides, with big defensive stands occurring more often than not. The Pats offense should prevail over Baltimore’s defense, but don’t expect another six-touchdown day.

On the other side, Joe Flacco should see some openings here and there, but in the end his numbers will be pedestrian.

2. Who am I?

You’ll never hear a Patriots defensive back calling out Tom Brady.

But in Baltimore — where the roles seem to be flipped — that’s exactly what happened with Ed Reed and Joe Flacco this past week.

Reed essentially said Flacco seemed rattled out on the field by the Texans defense last Sunday. Obviously, that didn’t go over well.

So what happens if Flacco throws a pick on the first drive? Do Reed’s comments creep into his head?
Reed’s a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, but he may be helping out the Patriots defense with his comments this week. On the other hand, maybe it lights a bigger fire under Flacco.

3. Young and hungry
On Sunday, the Patriots will honor four postseason heroes, including Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, and Troy Brown. You know their stories. Now, it’s time for the 2011 Pats team to create its own legacy. How will this team be remembered?

“I think that is something that everybody kind of wants, to make your own little niche in the organization and kind of be remembered,” second-year linebacker and undrafted free agent Dane Fletcher said. “One of my coaches always said, ‘do not be soon forgotten, and long remembered,’ and I kind of live by that.”

There aren’t many holdovers from the glory years. Now is this new crop’s time to shine.


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