AFC Championship 2013, Ravens vs. Patriots: Joe Flacco and the deep ball

Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Baltimore is trying to get to its first Super Bowl since 2000, while New England aims for its sixth appearance in 11 years.

The Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots will play out a rematch of the 2011 AFC Championship Game on Sunday in Gillette Stadium, with the right to go to Super Bowl XLVII hanging in the balance.

New England took care of the Houston Texans at home last weekend, easily dispatching a team that was on the decline for a month.

On the other hand, Baltimore took care of the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round before engineering the upset of the playoffs over the Denver Broncos last Saturday, winning 38-35 in two overtimes.

In this contest, the matchup to watch is Torrey Smith running long against the Patriots' secondary. Smith torched Champ Bailey last week to the tune of 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

As shown here by ESPN, Flacco has been lethal going long. In the postseason, he's an astonishing 4-of-5 on throws for 40-plus yards.

Smith is the ultimate burner and pairs well with Joe Flacco, who isn't as dangerous in his short and intermediate passes, but can be devastating on the long throw. Flacco has terrific accuracy and touch, so New England, especially Steve Gregory and Devin McCourty, need to be aware.

If the Patriots can keep the game in front of them and create some pressure, they should be celebrating at game's end. Otherwise, it's anybody's ballgame.


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