1. These teams have notable playoff history. The Ravens visited the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 in the 2011 game, while the Ravens got their revenge the following year with a 28-13 victory. The Ravens also beat the Patriots in the wild-card round in the 2009 season, when they put a 33-14 pasting on New England. This will be their fourth playoff trip to New England since '09. Winning at Gillette Stadium is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL -- the Patriots are 10-3 in the playoffs at home since 2002 -- but the Ravens have proven capable of doing so in the past. The teams did not play in the 2014 regular season, with their latest meeting coming Dec. 22, 2013, in Baltimore -- a 41-7 Patriots win.
2. Tough to run against. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's return from a four-game suspension further strengthens a Ravens' front that is tough in the running game. Baltimore allowed 88.3 rushing yards per game this season (fourth fewest in the NFL) and hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 27 games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees served as New England's defensive coordinator from 2006-09. His Ravens unit entered Saturday's wild-card round game having totaled 49 sacks, the second highest total in team history. Elvis Dumervil led the team with 17 sacks in the regular season.
3. Zone-blocking scheme and a strong-armed QB. Under first-year coordinator Gary Kubiak, the Ravens run a zone-blocking scheme the Patriots have seen over the years from Kubiak's Houston teams (2006-2013) and Mike Shanahan's old Broncos teams (1995-2008). One of the main objectives is to cut down defenders on the back side of the play. Running back Justin Forsett has had a career year as the lead back (1,266 yards, 235 carries, 5.4 ypc), and he is shifty. But as we saw Saturday night, he is also a ball-security threat with a lost fumble. Quarterback Joe Flacco, who plays cool under pressure, has a strong arm with the ability to attack all levels of the field.