In New England’s AFC Championship match up against the Baltimore Ravens, their ability to stop running back Ray Rice may be the key to victory; however, that is easier said than done. The Ravens tailback has been dominant at times in his young career and can take over games. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind for Sunday. -


Vince Wilfork and the Patriots defense will need to contain Ray Rice to secure a victory on Sunday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

- Rice is incredibly versatile and is used in several different ways by Cam Cameron in the Ravens offense. He runs inside, outside, catches passes out of the backfield – he is a true weapon for this Baltimore team. The 24-year-old out of Rutgers rushed for more yards in his four-year career this season.

- Jerod Mayo and the Patriots linebackers will play a large role containing Rice Sunday afternoon. If the defensive line can control the line of scrimmage, similar to in last week’s victory, the linebackers should have the opportunities to make tackles for short or no gains.

- Rice has rushed for 1, 364 yards on 291 carries this season, adding 12 touchdowns on the ground. He fumbled twice on the year – only six times throughout his career – and lost both of them.

- Even though the tailback is a threat rushing, he is also very valuable in the passing game. Rice was first on the team with 76 catches. Nineteen more than the second leading receiver Anquan Boldin. In addition to his rushing statistics, he added 76 catches for 704 yards and three touchdowns.

- His 4.7 yard-per-carry (ypc) average is also near the top in the league among running backs with at least 100 carries.

Analysis:

The Patriots ability to contain Rice will undoubtedly be one of the keys to the game. While these statistics may make that out to be a tough task, it is not impossible. Yes, the Patriots defense has struggled this year, but Bill Belichick has always done a great job of taking away what opposing teams do best and the unit played incredibly well last week.

Hopefully, the defense can continue to build off their recent performance and continue to make strides. I believe the Pats do enough to contain Rice, resulting in another New England victory. Look for my full pre-game thoughts and score prediction Saturday morning.

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