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Setting the AFC championship scene: Patriots-Ravens

01.20.13 at 2:01 pm ET
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Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Bill Belichick look for another Super Bowl trip with a win today over the Ravens. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Bill Belichick look for another Super Bowl trip with a win today over the Ravens. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — High winds and falling temperatures are expected in Foxboro as the Patriots shoot for their sixth AFC championship in the the last 12 seasons under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Game time temperatures are expected in the mid-30s and are expected to drop into the mid-20s throughout the game but the bigger factor will be winds between 15-20 miles an hour with gusts up to 35 MPH making it feel like 14 degrees in the second half.

The only significant injury for the Patriots is the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to a broken left arm, suffered last Sunday in the win over the Texans.

Chandler Jones (ankle) and Danny Woodhead (left thumb) should both be available to play and both were listed as probable for the game after fully participating in practice on Friday.

As for the Ravens, the most notable injury could be running back Bernard Pierce (knee). He did not practice on Thursday and was limited on Friday, and was officially listed as questionable on Friday.

This is the fourth rematch in AFC championship history since 1975. The Steelers beat the Raiders in 1974 and 1975 before losing the 1976 game in Oakland as the Raiders finally broke through and won Super Bowl XI. In 1978 and 79, the Steelers hosted the Houston Oilers, and beat them both times on the way to winning Super Bowl XII and Super Bowl XIII.

It happened again in 1986 and ’87. In Jan. 1987, the Broncos beat the Browns on “The Drive” in Cleveland. The next year, Ernest Byner fumbled in the closing seconds and the Broncos held on to beat the Browns at Mile High Stadium.

The Raiders are the only the team to win an AFC championship rematch.

As for the season history, the Patriots will be looking for revenge after losing a 30-21 fourth-quarter lead and falling 31-30 on a controversial Justin Tucker field goal as time expired at M&T Bank Stadium. The field goal appeared to go over the right upright but replacement officials ruled it good.

Ray Rice had 101 yards rushing on just 20 carries in that game while Joe Flacco was 28-of-39 for 382 yards and three touchdowns. Brady, who last week set the all-time NFL playoff record for quarterback wins with 17, was 28-of-41 for 335 yards and a touchdown in the Sept. 23 game in Baltimore. The high winds at Gillette Stadium today figure to drastically impact the deep passing game.

The press box at Gillette Stadium will be a busy place today as over 600 credentials have been issued to local and national media.

Some other nuggets for today:

  • The Patriots are 7-1 in the AFC championship, including 4-0 at home.
  • This is the Patriots ninth appearance in the AFC championship, only Pittsburgh (15), Dallas (14), San Francisco (14) and Oakland (11) have more.
  • The Patriots are looking for back-to-back AFC championships for the second time, having turned the trick in 2003-04.
  • The Patriots were first in the NFL in total offense per game at 427.9 yards and points (34.8).
  • The Patriots were first in the NFL in turnover margin at +25. Ravens were tied for eighth at +9.

    For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI-FM 93.7 will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens at 6:30 p.m.

  • Read More: AFC Championship, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, joe flacco Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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