MIAMI, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Baltimore (10-6) at Miami (11-5)
AFC wild card round
Sunday, 4 p.m.
The Baltimore Ravens, who begin their NFL playoffs at Miami, know about winning on the road as last season they captured a pair of road victories en route to winning Super Bowl XXXV.
Sunday, the Ravens begin defense of their title as they meet the Miami Dolphins at Pro Player Stadium in an AFC wild card game.
"I would have liked to have had a home game," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "But we're built for it (playing on the road) and if that's our challenge, we're ready to go."
If the Ravens are going to defend their title, they will likely have to win three games away from home. Baltimore's only chance for a home game is against the New York Jets in the AFC championship game
"We were on the road all last year. This is nothing new for us," said Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV who played collegiately at Miami.
Baltimore is facing a team that knows something about defending its home turf in the playoffs. The Dolphins have won five of their last six home postseason games, with their only loss in that span coming in the 1993 AFC championship game against Buffalo.
The Dolphins went 7-1 at home this season at home, winning by a combined 188-92. But Baltimore will provide the Dolphins with their sternest test of the season.
The Ravens are clearly not the same team as last season, especially on defense, where they allowed 265 points. In 2000, Baltimore set an NFL record for fewest points (165) allowed in a 16-game season.
Miami's offense will have to avoid mistakes agains the Ravens. Quarterback Jay Fiedler, who had fumble problems this season and threw 19 interceptions, may be the key to the Dolphins' success against the vaunted Ravens defense.
Lamar Smith also will have to help provide a running game against a defense that has allowed only one 100-yard rusher in the last 53 games. Smith carried 22 times for 63 yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins' 19-6 win over Baltimore here.
It should also be a challenge for Miami receivers Oronde Gadsden, James McKnight and rookie Chris Chambers. Gadsden missed Sunday's regular-season finale against Buffalo with a strained hamstring.
Chambers, who suffered an ankle injury in last week's game, could be a key in the passing game to stretch the Baltimore defense. However, Chambers is listed as questionable.
In additon to Chambers and Gadsden, Miami linebacker Zach Thomas (rotator cuff) missed last week's game. But he will be back Sunday and does not fear the Ravens.
No player is this game could be under more pressure than Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac, who signed a five-year, $30 million contract with Baltimore in the offseason to replace Trent Dilfer.
Grbac has been the target of criticism from his own teammates and fans in his first season with the Ravens after throwing 18 interceptions and only 15 touchdown passes.
Grbac will have to avoid mistakes against a Miami secondary led by cornerbacks Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain and safety Brock Marion. Marion led the team with five interceptions, two of which he brought back for touchdowns.
All the blame should not fall on Grbac, who has played behind a very suspect offensive line. Left guard Edwin Mulitalo and right tackle Kipp Vickers are two players in particular that have struggled.
Veteran running back Terry Allen, who signed with Baltimore during training camp to help fill the void left by a season-ending knee injury to Jamal Lewis, came on late in the year.
The 33-year-old Allen rushed for 288 yards in the last three games, including a season-high 133 against Minnesota in the regular-season finale.
The interior of the Miami offensive line with Heath Irwin, Tim Ruddy and Todd Perry, will be tested by massive tackles Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams. Siragusa, one of the most colorful players in the league, is retiring after this season.