The outcome of Sunday's AFC wild-card showdown between the Ravens and the New England Patriots will be determined by the players on the field inside Gillette Stadium.
The impact on the two head coaches, however, could reverberate for a little longer.
Should the Ravens, 3 1/2 -point underdogs, upset New England, the win would likely move John Harbaugh - who guided the Ravens to the AFC championship game a year ago - to the forefront of the so-called youth movement in the NFL coaching ranks.
If the Patriots emerge victorious, the contest will probably enhance the resume of Bill Belichick, who is already regarded as the Coach of the Decade for his three Super Bowl trophies in 2001, 2003 and 2004.
Characteristically, Harbaugh declined to discuss Sunday's game according to those parameters.
"If we were to line up against each other, I don't think it would be very interesting to watch," Harbaugh said. "I don't think it would be much of a matchup. So it's going to be the players. That's what the game is going to be about."
Said Belichick: "When we're not playing them, we can be on good terms and be friendly. But right now, we got a job to do."
Despite his somewhat terse comment, Belichick thought highly enough of Harbaugh to endorse him for the Ravens job two years ago when the team asked his opinion. Belichick cited Harbaugh's experience as a special teams coach as a positive because that position requires interacting with the entire team.
A commitment - some might say single-minded focus - to get the job done is perhaps the most significant attribute the duo shares.
Both Harbaugh and Belichick brandish no-nonsense styles. After succeeding Brian Billick - who was renowned as a players' coach - before the 2008 season, Harbaugh severely restricted the players' ability to leave camp at night to go home and installed more hitting with pads during practices.
Those policies have long been adopted by Belichick, who has upheld his reputation as a taskmaster.
Belichick was exposed to a culture of discipline at a young age, as he grew up in Annapolis, where his father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy.
Former players have said Belichick would mix in scant and faint praise with an abundance of criticism and review during team meetings. During his tenure as an aide to coach Bill Parcells with the New York Giants in the 1980s, Belichick's pessimistic view earned him the nickname "Doom."
Harbaugh acknowledged that, like several other coaches, he has followed and picked up things from Belichick, who is the third-longest-tenured coach in the league behind the Tennessee Titans' Jeff Fisher and the Philadelphia Eagles' Andy Reid.
"Coach Belichick is a great coach, and I've got a lot of respect for him and what they've accomplished," Harbaugh said. "There's a lot of things that they do that we try to learn from. We try to pattern some things after he and Andy Reid and all the people that you learn from over the years. So I just think he's one of the greatest coaches of all time. So of course you try to take what you can."
Another common trait is a tenacious stance on accountability. When Harbaugh and cornerback Chris McAlister could not see eye-to-eye last season, McAlister was benched, deactivated for three weeks, placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and then released in the offseason.
When wide receiver Randy Moss and linebackers Adalius Thomas, Derrick Burgess and Gary Guyton were late for an 8 a.m. team meeting because of a snowstorm, Belichick sent them home.
"They're definitely hard-nosed coaches," said Ravens wide receiver Kelley Washington, who has played for both. "They expect a lot out of their players and expect a lot out of the veterans and veteran leadership. You can tell they don't have a lackadaisical coaching style."
Although Washington said both Harbaugh and Belichick take a hands-on approach during practices, linebacker Prescott Burgess offered a differing viewpoint. Burgess, who was traded by the Ravens to the Patriots and stayed in New England for a little more than a week, said Belichick is not as pro-active as Harbaugh.
"Belichick is one of those guys who only says something when he has to," Burgess said. "Harbaugh tries to get into all the different position meetings and tries to interact with the players. With Belichick, I guess he's been a head coach for so long that he's more laid-back and will say something when he has to."
The personality of Harbaugh, who players have said is engaging and approachable, seems to be the opposite of that of Belichick, who is perceived as dour, almost confrontational. But Washington said Belichick can be just as easygoing and gregarious.
"On the outside, it may seem like he's this terrible coach whom you can't speak to or can't laugh with," Washington said. "But he's one of the funniest guys you're ever going to meet. He tells jokes, brings comedians in during Saturday meetings.