Sunday, January 10, 2010
Quick Take: Ravens-Colts
By Paul Kuharsky
Three things to know about Saturday’s Ravens-Colts divisional playoff game:
1. We might learn a bit about the meaning of momentum. The Colts shut it down the last two weeks, sacrificing a shot at a perfect regular season with losses against the Jets and at Buffalo and finishing 14-2 before enjoying a bye.
Bill Polian insists that momentum means nothing as teams enter the playoffs.
While his team has none, the Ravens will come in riding high after the franchise’s first win over New England, a 33-14 wild card shocker at Gillette Stadium. Will we see rested hosts or rusty hosts?
On Nov. 22 in Baltimore, the Colts won 17-15. The Ravens were all field goals that afternoon and will head to Indianapolis knowing they won't stand a very good chance if they aren't able to finish drives with touchdowns in their second chance.
2. Peyton Manning will be working against a pass defense that can be suspect. The Ravens secondary was excellent Sunday in New England. But it’s without the injured Fabian Washington and doesn’t rate as a deep group.
As Baltimore jumped quickly to a big lead against the Patriots, the Ravens saw Tom Brady throw 19 incomplete passes, intercepted him three times, sacked him three times and held him to 157 passing yards. It certainly helped their cause that Brady’s favorite target, Wes Welker, was lost to a knee injury in the regular season finale.
It will be difficult for them to match that effort at Lucas Oil Stadium against the quarterback who just won his fourth MVP award and has a solid and complete stable of pass targets with Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, who had six catches for 108 yards in the first meeting.
Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson thinks Manning will shred the Ravens’ pass coverage.
3. The Colts will have to prove, again, that they are capable of slowing a physical run game. Ray Rice ran for 159 yards at Gillette Stadium and the Ravens totaled 234 in the first-round win. If Baltimore is to spring an upset, it will likely have to be fueled by its rushing offense again.
The Colts were 24th in rush defense this season, but held Baltimore to 98 yards and 3.2 yards per carry just before Thanksgiving.
The Ravens' big, physical offensive line will look to pave the way for the backs and keep Joe Flacco safe against the Colts' smaller, quicker and more athletic defensive front. If Indy can get Flacco in third and long, they’ll be pleased to let Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis do their thing.