It should come as no surprise that the New England Patriots comprise one half of the AFC Championship teams. In fact, seven of the franchise’s nine total conference championship appearances have come in the last 12 seasons, to go along with three Super Bowl titles in four years. Simply put, the Bill Belichick era has been quite kind to the Pats.
While the Baltimore Ravens may not have the same illustrious postseason history, they did get the better of Tom Brady and company during Week 3. More recently, they completed an improbable road comeback in spoiling Peyton Manning’s playoff debut with the Denver Broncos. Whether it’s been skill, luck, or a collective desire to keep the season going for veteran Ray Lewis, who is set to retire after 17 years in the NFL, no team appears better suited for the long haul right now than the Ravens. Well, except for maybe the Patriots.
Sunday’s game is poised to be one for the ages, as both squads bring similar 2012 season resumes to the table. Each team won its respective division with at least 10 wins, though as mentioned earlier, the Ravens were victorious in the lone meeting of the season, just barely edging the Patriots, 31-30 at M&T Bank Stadium back on Sept. 23.
As far as the postseason goes, Baltimore and New England have met only twice previously, and just once in the conference championship game when the Patriots won in a thrilling 23-20 barnburner last year. The Ravens are 1-2 all time in AFC Championship games, with the victory coming in the 2000 playoffs when they became just the fourth NFL team ever to win the Super Bowl on the first try. The Patriots are a staggering 7-1 overall in conference championships, having lost only to the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, and 6-0 when earning a first-round bye.
While fans were likely pulling for a Brady/Manning rematch, it should be noted that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been putting together quite a postseason for himself. Through two wins, Flacco is 30-for-57 with 613 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 120.0 passer rating. Brady, meanwhile, has played just one postseason game thus far but is 25-for-40 with 344 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 115.0 passer rating.
Though Gillette Stadium is typically known for its arctic temperatures and heavy snow storms this time of year, fans venturing to Foxborough this weekend will be pleasantly surprised to hear you may not need all 50 layers of blankets this time around. As of Jan. 15, the forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies and a high of 40, with just a 20 percent chance of rain, though the 22 mile-per-hour winds may be an issue for both fans and kicking crews.
Regardless of the weather, a playoff game in January is exactly where teams want to be, and they’ll need all the support they can get. Don’t delay in purchasing your 2013 AFC Championship tickets and book your seats for the highly anticipated Patriots-Ravens showdown on Sunday, Jan. 20. Should your team advance, visit the marketplace for a great selection of 2013 Super Bowl tickets in stock now for the Feb. 3 grand finale in New Orleans.