Any Given Sunday: Ravens fly
Don't let a 9-7 record fool you. Baltimore is one of the best teams in football.
At Football Outsiders, we use a stat called DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) that evaluates every play of the NFL season and adjusts it for down, distance, score, field position, quality of opponent and other factors. When the regular season ended, DVOA said the Baltimore Ravens -- a 9-7 team that struggled to beat the Oakland Raiders in Week 17 just to earn a wild-card berth -- were the most efficient team in football in 2009.
After dominating the New England Patriots 33-14 in the first round of the playoffs, on Sunday the Ravens will face off against an Indianapolis team that sits high above them in the standings but far below them in the DVOA rankings. Our numbers show that the Ravens can beat the Indianapolis Colts with the same game plan they used to beat the Patriots: run, run and run some more.
To read why the Ravens' excellent play this season didn't show up in the wins column and how they might topple the mighty Colts this weekend, you must be an ESPN Insider.
2009 NFL PLAYOFFS: ROAD TO MIAMI