There will be at least five future Hall of Fame players on the field in Foxboro, Mass.: Patriots quarterback
Even better, there's some bad blood. After the Patriots' 27-21 victory over the Ravens in Foxboro back on Oct. 4, Baltimore coach
Rice is an old-school hammer who will run over linebackers. Some teams are particularly adept at sustaining success by choosing players who fit the franchise design. The Steelers do it. The Patriots do it. And the Ravens do it, with no better example than Rice. What makes his presence in the game all the more intriguing is the Patriots have often been very average against the run this season. "We try to make teams one-dimensional,'' says Pats nose tackle
Welker's presence would be a compelling reason to care about this game, because he is among the best slot receivers in history. His absence is fascinating. Will Moss step up and deliver an epic performance in Welker's absence, or will the Ravens simply take him away with daylong double coverage? Will rookie
Or will Brady find some other way to win the game?
"One thing about Welker is that he's basically impossible to guard. He's one of those slot receivers, like
This has all the makings of a nasty battle. It's going to be cold and probably windy. The Ravens are designed for January, with a solid running game behind Rice and McGahee and a play-action passing game. With Welker out, the Ravens are unlikely to let Moss beat them. Still: This is the wild-card round in Foxboro and it's hard to envision New England losing to a team that struggles to score points. Neither of these teams are going to the Super Bowl, but you have to believe Brady makes just enough plays to keep the Patriots alive.