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AFC Divisional Round: Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts


Playoffs Round Two: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Saturday January 16, 2010 8:00 PM

Line: Ravens +3.5


Dominance. That’s what the Ravens showed last week in Foxboro, Massachusetts. They laid a complete and total beatdown on one of the best teams of the modern era. When is the last time you can ever remember a game being over after the first 15:00 minutes? Hundreds of thousands of purple hearts beating across the country sat in stunned silence. I know I for one was curious as to whether I had overslept and was still dreaming.

 But that was last week. This week the Ravens face a horse of a totally different color. This week they have to travel to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning and his high flying well rested Colts. Indy hasn’t played a meaningful game in almost a month, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come ready to play and ready to knock this Baltimore team out of the race to Miami. To win tomorrow night will take nothing short of the very best out of each member of the roster. From the lowly special-teams player all the way up to Joe Flacco. Everyone must come ready to play.

 With that in mind let’s take a look at this week’s matchup. Keys to the Game:


Play with Confidence

The Baltimore Ravens just knocked off the undisputed kings of football during the last decade. In the free agent period no team has even come close to matching the dynasty the Patriots strung together between the years 2001 through 2007. Led by the most revered coach in the game, quarterbacked by a future hall of famer, the Patriots name along was enough to strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams.

 The Ravens need to take that swagger, that confidence, into Indianapolis and show the Colts that they are worthy of being crowned Superbowl Champions. If they come into Indy with stars in their eyes, they will get blown out of the water before they even have time to blink.

Don’t even give the Colts a second to shake out the rust. Play with confidence and dictate the pace of the game.

 Take Peyton to the Ground!

This is arguably going to be the hardest task the Ravens must accomplish in order to beat the Indianapolis Colts tomorrow night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Winning the one on one battles at the point of attack is essential to a Ravens victory. If the defensive front cannot beat their guards and tackles respectively, then Peyton will have all day to throw the ball, and the Colts will win. Beating the Colts means getting to Peyton Manning and forcing him to throw the ball away.

Let’s be clear about this. Manning is the smartest quarterback in the league, if not in league history. Sacking Manning is one of the hardest feats in professional football. Under pressure he’s fare likelier to just dump the ball off then to go to the ground. Beating him on Sunday means getting in his face early and often. Take him to the ground every chance you get.

 Limit the Big Plays

 The Ravens Defense has got to frustrate the Colts Offense in order to win this game. The way to do that is to stop the big plays down field and force Peyton to throw over the middle (where he’s not as comfortable). Forcing numerous three and outs against the Colts has long been shown to be the best way to knock Peyton off his game. As goes Peyton so go the Colts. Take him out and you take out the team.

 Keep Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark limited and the wheels will fall off. This is not a Colts team that is designed to run. Force them to rely on the weakest part of their game.

 Play SMART Football

I’m keeping this Key in front last week because it’s just as relevant today as it was then. We all know about the Patriots Colts. Like it or not, they get preferential treatment by the Refs. They always have, they always will. The way the officiating crew bows before Belichick and Tom Brady Peyton Manning is shameful to the sport and shameful to the profession, but no honest fan would ever say that they wouldn’t jump at the chance to get that same sort of treatment. The Ravens would kill for that sort of deference.

 Beating the Patriots Colts means stepping it up and playing the cleanest smartest football that they’ve managed all season. They cannot beat themselves by taking penalties. Clean it up, don’t give the zebras an excuse and get the job done.

Last week the Ravens were penalized just three times for 15 yards. Keep up the good work and the game is that much more winnable.


Run, Little Ray, Run.

The Colts Run Defense is currently ranked in the bottom 25% of the leauge. This is not a unit which has statistically been shown to be able to effectively limit a diverse and well managed running game plan. Guess what the Ravens do exceptionally well. They run a diverse and well managed running game plan.

This is the chink in the armor that Miami exploited so effectively this season. The Colts struggle against the run. Use the draw, use the half back dive, and keep the ball on the ground as long as it continues to work. Running the ball allows you to control the game, kill the clock, and most importantly keep Peyton Manning off the field.

 Hold the Ball.

 In 2003 Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts were trailing the then red hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 35-14 with four minutes left to play in regulation. Over the course of the next four minutes, Peyton Manning led his team on four rapid touchdown drives to take the game into overtime where the Colts won on a Mike Vanderjagt field goal.

 That score look familiar? Had the ref’s correctly called Willis McGahee’s two-point conversion good that would have been the score the Ravens had over the Patriots in last week’s contest. Now I’m not saying that the correlation is apt by any stretch of the imagination, but the point I’m trying to make is that Peyton manning can beat you badly if you let him. The Ravens have got to win the possession battle in this game and limit the amount of time that Peyton Manning is on the field. I don’t care if the Ravens are winning by 7 touchdowns with ten minutes to play. Keep number 18 off the field.

 Silence the Dome

Playing in Foxboro is a daunting task, but a close second is playing in a dome in the playoffs. I doubt many can fully appreciate how deafening the playing field can become when a crowd gets into full tilt in a dome environment. Michael McCrary recently stated in an interview with 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore that his ears would ring for days after playing in a dome. Communication becomes essentially impossible for the away team offense.

 If the Ravens can get up in the score early like they did in Foxboro, take the Fans out of the game, it will be that much easier to take down the Colts.




Jonathon Scruggs

This week I’ve talked about eating crown for picking against the Ravens in Foxboro. I regret the decision in that I come off seemingly foolish, but I stand by my convictions which suggested no way the Ravens win against the Patriots. Tom Terrific and Beli-cheat would never allow their team to be embarrassed in the Wild-Card round… well low and behold I was proved wrong in very striking fashion.

This week I must once again pick against the Ravens. My heart is screaming for me to side with them, drink the Kool-Aid and get on the bandwagon, but my head tells me that Peyton will be Peyton, and playing him in a dome is much more difficult than playing him outdoors. He’s an indoor quarterback and the Ravens have never played particularly well against him when he’s in his element. I want the Birds to win very badly, I just don’t see it.

 Ravens 17 — Colts 31

 Matt Jergensen

I think one player holds the key to victory this week – Jared Gaither. He has a bad ankle among other injuries but he was upgraded to full participation in practice and should start. The Ravens will need him to slow down the Colts speed rushers and become a part of a solid line rotation to clear holes for the backs.

The Ravens must do the usual things to win such as win the turnover battle and time of possession. But their game plan will be different from the last game and it should allow them to keep Manning on the sidelines. A last crucial point is that they can’t get behind early and they must continue success in the red zone.

After Saturday, maybe the Colts will finally rethink the idea of resting players instead of staying sharp.

Ravens 24 — Colts 21


Gene Winner

 Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have stepped up to lead this team these past weeks and are determined to match Manning’s play calling.  T-Sizzle and the front four have to be effective in this game.

 On offense Ray Rice has become a serious threat.  Indy will commit to stopping the run, but don’t forget Indy’s cornerbacks are filling in for injured starters. This will allow Cam Cameron to exploit some on-on-one match-ups in the secondary– Flacco will have his opportunities.

 Indy will be tough challenge.  The good news is the Ravens are playing well, have momentum and actually might be a stronger team then they were last year at his time

“See Ray Run.”.

 Ravens 27 – Colts 23

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2 Responses to “AFC Divisional Round: Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts”

  1. […] Colts 7 · Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills · Jim Caldwell was right to rest his … AFC Divisional Round: Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts … – 01/15/2010 Playoffs Round Two: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts […]

  2. […] unknown wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:Playoffs Round Two: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Saturday January 16, 2010 8:00 PM Line: Ravens +3.5 Dominance. That’s what the Ravens showed last week in Foxboro, Massachusetts. […]

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