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Sports

December 19, 2013

Brady hopes for improved performance at Ravens

FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady’s recent problems against the Baltimore Ravens came when they still had Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

They’re gone now, but the New England quarterback still expects a tough time against one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses.

And one of the league’s hottest teams.

“They’re doing some new things and they’re kind of on a hot streak right now,” Brady said Wednesday. “We’ll try to figure out different ways to get them. We haven’t had the most success against them the last few times we’ve played them, offensively.’

New England has played Baltimore in each of the last four seasons, going 3-3, including a loss in last season’s AFC championship game.

Their game Sunday has playoff implications for both.

“A lot’s on the line, playoff hopes and all that type of stuff,” New England safety Steve Gregory said. “Any time you get games down here in late December, early December, going into January, those are big-time football games. So they just keep getting bigger as we go on from here.”

The Patriots (10-4) can clinch their fifth straight AFC East title even before their late afternoon game if Miami loses or ties at Buffalo.

If Miami wins, the Patriots can lock up a playoff berth if Cincinnati loses or ties its early game against Minnesota. And if Miami and Cincinnati both win, New England still can clinch the division by beating Baltimore.

The Ravens (8-6) have won five of their last six games to get into the playoff race. The defending Super Bowl champions can clinch a playoff spot if they win, Miami loses and San Diego loses or ties against Oakland.

Since that title game, linebacker Lewis retired and safety Reed signed with Houston, was released and joined the New York Jets.

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