X factor: Willis McGahee, Ravens RB

Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl tailback Ray Rice is on a roll, rushing for 229 yards on 36 carries the past two weeks.

But so is Willis McGahee.

While Rice is getting national praise for his production, McGahee has quietly put up identical numbers in a reserve role his last two games. McGahee also has 229 rushing yards on 36 carries in that span, in addition to four touchdowns.

Look for McGahee, the second link in Baltimore's three-headed monster, to be a key factor in Saturday's playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts (14-2). In a matchup of contrasting styles, the Ravens’ running game will be significant in controlling the pace and keeping the Colts' high-powered offense off the field.

Last week Rice, McGahee and fullback Le'Ron McClain pounded the New England Patriots into submission during Baltimore's 33-14 wild-card victory. The Ravens (10-7) ran the football a season-high 52 times for 234 yards and four combined rushing touchdowns, forcing the Patriots to play from behind the entire game.

McGahee had 20 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown against New England. His 167-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 17 against the Oakland Raiders clinched a wild-card berth for the Ravens.

Rice is Baltimore's big-play threat. But McGahee's responsibility to get the tough yards also is important. He led the Ravens with 12 rushing touchdowns during the regular season, and they will need his nose for the end zone again Saturday against Indianapolis.