Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/20/13
8 a.m. ET: The day of reckoning is upon us, at least for those of us who intently follow the NFL. The NFL’s conference judgment day will begin with the San Francisco 49ers’ visit to Atlanta for the NFC crown, but all eyes will be peeled for the Ravens’ trip to Foxboro to mark a repeat of last season’s AFC title game. Tom Brady has been preparing for his chance at a sixth Super Bowl appearance, and he won’t let another underwhelming performance, as he experienced last year, keep the Patriots from getting back to the big game. Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and the defense are keeping a similar mindset, trying to play with a chip on their shoulder given the Ravens’ narrow 31-30 victory over the Pats earlier this season. The Patriots boast a very different defensive unit than Baltimore saw in Week 3. Aqib Talib has helped stabilize the Patriots’ secondary, while the play of Devin McCourty and rookie Alfonzo Dennard has also made a significant difference in the transition. This game will be much different than the first meeting this season, as the Patriots have developed into a very different team and Joe Flacco has seemingly developed into a very different quarterback in these playoffs. There’s plenty to keep an eye out for, so make sure you keep it locked here with the NESN.com live blog for all your updates. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m., but make sure you stick with us all day to get all your news, notes and analysis from the 49ers-Falcons showdown as well ahead of the Patriots’ game. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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