On one side of the field, you have one of the most recognizable players in all of sports. Football fans would likely tell you Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. They'd say he's a big time player with ice in his veins willing do anything to win. Even the non-football fan knows who Tom Brady is. His face is often plastered on magazines, and he regularly appears on the main page of TMZ.com.
And on the other side of the field, you have Joe Flacco. Flacco's performance this season has been questioned -- even by his own teammates. He's anything but a household name who non-football fans probably know as "that player with the really weird mustache."
Nevertheless, both quarterbacks and their teams have found a way to win...and keep winning.
The Patriots are on the verge of the fifth Super Bowl appearance in the last 11 seasons. The team's offense has been clicking on all cylinders. Last week, they jumped out to a 14-0 lead that ended in a dominant 45-10 victory over Denver. Brady threw for 363 yards and six touchdown passes matching an NFL postseason record.
It hasn't been as easy for Flacco and the Ravens. Last week, the team only gained 227 yards in a victory over the Texans causing defensive veteran Ed Reed to express concern about his quarterback's performance.
"I think a couple of times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn't look like he had a hold on the offense," Reed said in a radio interview. "I think Flacco can have a breakout game, especially after last week. ... I know he is definitely coming back to show himself off."
Another big storyline in this game will be the Patriots offensive against the flamboyant and outspoken Ravens defense. Baltimore ranks third in the NFL with 16.6 points and 288.9 yards allowed per game. It led the AFC with 48 sacks.
The Ravens "are the best team we've faced all year," Brady said during interviews with the media this week. "There's no one that's going to overlook a team like that. It would be impossible to do. They present a ton of challenges in all three phases of the game ... they're physical, they're tough, they can cover. They've got some of the best players in the history of the NFL at their position, in Suggs and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata."
The Sunday afternoon showdown takes place at New England's Gillette Stadium. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on CBS.