Patriots-Ravens matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Jan. 18, 2012 @ 5:09 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the AFC Conference Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens:

Patriots' O-line vs. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs

The PFW/PFWA Defensive MVP, Suggs will be looking to wreak havoc against Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense. He is fast, strong and explosive and will move around, rushing from both sides. He is one of those players whose location Brady will have to acknowledge before every play.

It's not just getting sacks — Suggs had 14 this season — but Suggs has been a game-changing linebacker with his ability to strip the football. He had seven forced fumbles this season.

He has one sack in each of his last three meetings with the Patriots, including the Ravens' playoff win two years ago. Suggs collected three sacks in three different games this season (vs. Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Indianapolis).

The Patriots' offensive line, like the rest of its team, put together quite the performance in its divisional-round win over the Broncos. OTs Matt Light and Nate Solder shut out the pass-rushing duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Light, the veteran, knows Suggs well, but can sometimes struggle against speed rushers. Suggs likes to take advantage of right tackles, but Solder has been very impressive. A converted tight end, he shows good athleticism and has handled all his challenges this season, which included Dolphins OLB Cameron Wake.

The Ravens will be aggressive up front, and Suggs is the key to disrupting Brady and trying to keep the Patriots off the scoreboard. Look for RBs Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley to help and chip Suggs in the backfield.

Baltimore has plenty of defenders who can apply pressure, so the Patriots cannot put too much of an emphasis into stopping Suggs that they leave Brady vulnerable. But Suggs is the playmaker who can do the most damage, and the Pats' O-line will need to continue the elevated play it showed against Denver.  

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