Familiarity breeds success for Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco has outplayed Tom Brady in their most recent matchups, a trend the Baltimore Ravens hope continues in Sunday's critical game against the New England Patriots.

In his past four meetings with New England (including two AFC Championship Games), Flacco has completed 67.1 percent of his throws and has averaged 303 yards passing. He has thrown 10 touchdowns (it would have been 11 if not for Lee Evans' failed catch) and two interceptions for a passer rating of 109.8.

What's been the key to Flacco's success against the Patriots? Familiarity.

Since 2011, his fourth season in the NFL, look at Flacco's numbers against the AFC North: 21 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 88.3 passer rating. Compare that to the rest of the league over that same time: 39 touchdowns, 32 interceptions and a 78.6 passer rating.

Flacco plays better against the defenses he sees most often. And Flacco has lined up against the Patriots almost as often as he has the Steelers, Browns and Bengals. Sunday will mark the seventh time the Ravens will face the Patriots in five years. Those successful four games that Flacco had against New England came in a span of three seasons.

“Let’s put it this way: They are definitely almost like a division opponent," said Flacco, who has won his past two games against the Patriots. "Since I’ve been here, we’ve played them [often]. Even early in my career, we’ve played them most of the years and in the playoffs."

Flacco added, "And we’ve both been good teams and vying for playoff spots and trying to win playoff games against each other. They have got the better of us, and we have got the better of them a few times. It’s a game that has been consistent and been pretty good over the last few years, and we definitely have a bit of a familiarity with them.”