Columnist Mike Preston picks three key matchups in the Ravens' AFC divisional round playoff game vs. the New England Patriots.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Ravens defense: The Ravens have to keep an eye on Gronkowski because he is the key to the passing game and a powerful blocker. The Ravens will try to offset Gronkowski in a number of ways, including jamming him at the line of scrimmage. Instead of a safety, they might cover him with a No. 3 cornerback. Regardless, he forces the Ravens to adjust. Gronkowski had 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season. Edge: Patriots.
Patriots DT Vince Wilfork vs. Ravens C Jeremy Zuttah, G John Urschel and G Kelechi Osemele: Wilfork is a space eater. He might not be as good as he was years ago, but he is still a force in the middle and had 47 tackles in the regular season. He'll crush Zuttah one on one, so the Ravens have to give him help with Urschel and Osemele. Both guards also need to have good games because New England will blitz a lot up the middle. Edge: Patriots.
Patriots S Patrick Chung and S Devin McCourty vs. Ravens TE Owen Daniels: It's reasonable to believe that with the Patriots' outstanding cornerbacks, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will have some plays to get Daniels the ball, especially across the middle in third down situations. Daniels had 48 catches for 527 yards during the regular season. If both safeties can't handle Daniels, look for the Patriots to put speedy No. 3 cornerback Kyle Arrington on him. Edge: Ravens.