Sunday, January 6, 2013
Good morning from Baltimore
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- Emotions always run high in the playoffs, but no postseason game this weekend will strike a chord like Sunday's wild-card game between the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.
This playoff game features the unwelcomed homecoming of the Colts to Baltimore, Chuck Pagano's inspiring battle against leukemia and Ray Lewis' touching farewell to the city of Baltimore.
If the Ravens win, they will play at the second-seeded Denver Broncos on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. Because my attention will be on the Ravens today, I will provide my take on the Bengals' playoff loss on Monday.
Here are the three keys for the Ravens against the Colts:
1. Lean on Ray Rice. No one on the Ravens is more inspired to extend Ray Lewis' career than Rice, who has been groomed by Lewis to be the team's next leader. And Rice should have plenty of opportunity to make an impact. The Ravens are facing the NFL's fourth-worst run defense.
2. Force Andrew Luck into turnovers. The Ravens have to make Luck look like a rookie. In 11 wins, Luck threw 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions (82.1 passer rating). In five losses, he threw seven touchdowns and nine interceptions (65.4 rating).
3. Capitalize on special teams. The Ravens have a big advantage over the Colts here. Jacoby Jones led the NFL in kickoff returns (30.7-yard average) and was 15th on punt returns (9.2). The Colts have struggled on coverage teams, ranking 26th on punts and 22nd on kickoffs.