Patriots Bracing For ‘Tough, Old-School’ AFC Playoff Clash With Ravens

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FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are ready to trade blows.

The Patriots know full well that eliminating the Baltimore Ravens will require blood, sweat and maybe even some tears. Yet it’s a price New England sounds willing to pay this Saturday when the teams hook up for an AFC divisional-round playoff clash at Gillette Stadium.

“You can’t shortcut anything, especially around this time of year. Every team you face is a good football team,” Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said Wednesday. “It seems like the Baltimore Ravens are a divisional opponent because we play them so much. They know us, we know them.

“It’s going to be one of those tough, old-school football games, I feel. It’s a game that’s going to have to be played in the trenches. Up front, offensive and defensive line, we have to do a real good job to be successful.”

The Patriots and Ravens have become familiar adversaries in recent years, having played three playoff games since 2009. Baltimore won two of those contests — a 2009 wild-card matchup and the 2012 AFC Championship Game — so New England is prepared for another knock-down, drag-out fight despite having more regular-season success in 2014.

“They’re still Baltimore. Every year they’re a little different, and they’re different this year,” Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman said. “But they still have a lot of explosive players at all positions. They’re a real savvy team in the playoffs. Once they’re here in this tournament, it seems like they always do good things.

“We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us. It’s definitely going to be a battle, and we have to take advantage of these last few days to prepare, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Typically, there’s no shortage of trash talk between the Patriots and Ravens leading up to one of their postseason showdowns. Terrell Suggs’ disapproval of Tom Brady, of course, is well-documented. But there hasn’t been much bulletin-board material tossed around this week. The teams seemingly are focused on on-field matters, recognizing they’ll have to scratch tooth and nail for every inch come Saturday.

“It’s going to be fun,” Edelman said. “You know these guys are going to bring it. Everyone thinks that we hate them. These are the type of games where it’s cold, it’s a battle, and you like competing against the Baltimore Ravens because you know they’re a good team.”

As far as whether there will be trash talking once the game kicks off? Well, that could be a different story.

“We’re not really ones to start it. But we’re not going to back down,” Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “We’re obviously not going to do anything stupid. We’re going to try to avoid 15-yard penalties or whatever. But I think the best answer to that is we’re going to talk between the plays.”

Both teams’ gloves are tied up. It’s almost time to ring the bell.

Thumbnail photo via Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports Images

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