Baltimore Ravens: Andrew Luck

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In my 14 years of covering the Baltimore Ravens, I don't recall a time when the defensive players raved about a young quarterback like they did when talking about Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on Wednesday.

"We're really impressed with the kid. We don't say that about a lot [of players]," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Usually we come up here and play a political game and we're like, 'This guy can make every throw and this guy is pretty good.' This guy is actually really f------ good."

The Ravens face Luck and the Colts on Sunday, and there's no question they're lining up against the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now. Luck is the first player in NFL history to post consecutive games with at least 370 yards passing, four or more touchdown passes, a completion percentage above 70 percent and one or no interceptions.

Luck leads the league in passing yards (1,305) and has thrown the most passing touchdowns (13) by a Colts quarterback through the first four games of a season -- and that includes Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas.

The Ravens beat Luck in their only meeting, keeping him out of the end zone in a 24-9 win in a 2012 AFC wild-card game. But that was when Luck was in his first year in the league.

"He was already good his rookie season, obviously," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "Now, he's that much better. He has way better control of the offense. Anytime a person is open, he hits them. That's what it looks like on film. Everybody has to be on their game this week. Everybody has to know exactly what we're doing. We can't let any balls get over our head."

The Ravens know Luck can hurt them with his legs as much as his arm. Since coming into the league in 2012, Luck is second only to Cam Newton among quarterbacks in converting third downs by running the ball with 27.

"He ran like 4.5 [40-yard dash] or something at the combine, so he's outrunning most defensive ends," Suggs said. "It's going to be a fun and entertaining game."

This game features the Ravens, who have given up the second-fewest points in the NFL (15 points per game), against the Colts, who have scored the most points in the league (34 points per game).

"This is probably the best offense we've had to face so far," Smith said. "They have a ton of receivers who can get open, get the ball and score. They have a quarterback who is on his way to being the best in the league. We have our work cut out for us."
As part of ESPN's #NFLRank project, Football Outsiders named Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as the most overrated among players ranked 31-40. It's been about a week since anyone put the "overrated" label on Flacco, so the Super Bowl MVP was due to hear it again.

This is the point made by Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz:
Even if we dismiss any thought of future potential and only look at regular-season performance in 2012, Flacco was simply not as good as Andrew Luck (No. 41), Colin Kaepernick (No. 42),Robert Griffin (No. 46) or Russell Wilson (No. 47). And while those guys didn't lead their teams to the Super Bowl title, it's hard to say that they choked in the postseason.

Many of the statistics with Flacco and the NFL's young guns are comparable. I just wouldn't overlook the fact that Flacco produces big plays and plays big in critical moments.

Last season, Flacco ranked fourth in the NFL in fourth-quarter passing, which was better than Wilson (fifth), Kaepernick (seventh), RG III (17th) and Luck (29th). Flacco's 40 passes of at least 25 yards in the 2012 regular season ranked behind only Drew Brees (47).

The most valid criticism is Flacco's lack of consistency. Last year, he produced more games of fewer than 200 yards passing (six) than with more than 300 yards (five).

Flacco's trump card is victories. His 63 wins since 2008, including the regular season and playoffs, are six more than anyone else during that same span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. While some will argue Flacco hasn't necessarily played a big role in those wins, his numbers will dispute that. In those wins, Flacco has averaged 227 yards passing with 88 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

I understand the buzz about the latest wave of good young quarterbacks. But I question the assertion that they're better than Flacco when you're comparing their rookie seasons to a Super Bowl champion's five-year body of work.