Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are a juggernaut. But they'll have to fend off Ray Lewis this weekend, who might have one more dance left on his card.
In his final postseason, the future Hall of Fame linebacker could take his "last ride" all the way to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII if his Baltimore Ravens get through the Patriots on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Mass.
These teams know each other very well. The Ravens came up short of a Super Bowl bid last January thanks to a Billy Cundiff missed field goal in the closing seconds of the AFC title game against New England. The tables were turned in September when rookie Ravens kicker Justin Tucker booted the game-winning field goal as time expired on a 31-30 victory over the Pats.
That win was highlighted by the gutsy performance of Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, whose younger brother died in a motorcycle accident less than 24 hours before he caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in Baltimore.
He also scored a pair of touchdowns in Baltimore's 38-35 double overtime win over the top-seeded Denver Broncos last weekend.
Even with quarterback Joe Flacco playing at the top of his game (306.5 ypg, five TDs passes, zero INTs in two playoff games), the most talented passer in the matchup remains Brady. The three-time Super Bowl winner threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 41-28 win against the Houston Texans to follow up another MVP-type regular season.
The Patriots are always dangerous, but this inspired Ravens team should get to their first Super Bowl in 12 years.