Wild-Card Round: Indianapolis (11-5) @ Baltimore (10-6)
January 6, 2013 – M&T Bank Stadium – 1:00pm
Indianapolis has had a great season with rookie first round pick QB Andrew Luck. Former Ravens defensive coordinator, now head coach Chuck Pagano, is battling back after being diagnosed with Leukemia. Pagano and his team have been a great inspiration. Coach Pagano still has close ties to Baltimore, it’s fans and is well respected by players he used to coach. The Ravens secondary will have their hands full with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and veteran receiver Reggie Wayne. The passing attack ranks 7th in the NFL for Indianapolis.
For Baltimore, they should be well rested after taking most of the starters out last Sunday in Cincinnati. The Ravens have heart and determination; the team could have folded after a three game losing streak and it was a big risk firing their offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Instead, the defense is playing at a high level and the offense has rediscovered it’s run game with Ray Rice and rookie Bernard Pierce. 5 years in a row to the playoffs is not an easy task for any franchise. The Ravens will try to fight off Indianapolis’s momentum; outside of Baltimore fans, no one is rooting for the Ravens.
CHALK IT UP/KEY MATCH-UP’s
RAVENS RUN GAME VS. INDY’S RUN DEFENSE:
New offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has put an emphasis on establishing the run game. Ray Rice not only utilized from the backfield, but Caldwell has Rice getting out as a receiver. Rookie Bernard Pierce has established himself a real threat from the backfield. Indy is ranked 29th versus the run and that should be good news to the Ravens offense.
RAVENS RECEIVERS VS. INDY’S SECONDARY:
Corner Vontae Davis (1int.) and Darius Butler (4 int’s) are solid corners, but the Ravens experience with Anquan Boldin and speed of Torrey Smith could help them gain an edge in the passing game. Indy ranks 21st (236.8) in passing yards allowed. Though the Ravens have a formidable rushing attack, but don’t forget this offense has set a franchise record for points scored, 398. So, the passing attack will be an integral part of the game plan Sunday.
Key: It all comes down to protection for QB Joe Flacco. Michael Oher will be up against the dangerous Dwight Freeney, who’s been hot lately. Robert Mathis (8 sacks) vs. rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele is another key for pass protection.
RAVENS SECONDARY VS. INDY’S PASSING ATTACK
Rookie QB Andrew Luck has been sensational this year (4,374 yards, 23 TD’s). The passing attack relies on veteran receiver Reggie Wayne (1355 yards, 5 TD’s), Donnie Avery (60 rec., 3 Td’s), along with rookie T.Y. Hilton (50 rec., 7 TD’s). The Ravens secondary will need to do it’s due diligence in slowing down Reggie Wayne and the Indy receivers. Last week the secondary held Cincinnati’s receiver A.J. Green in check by bracketing him and sending a safety his way. The secondary must do the same this weekend versus Wayne. The unit must avoid the big pass plays or it could put the Ravens in a hole early. FS Ed Reed will have his opportunities; Luck has thrown 18 interceptions.
PASS RUSH: Baltimore can’t let rookie QB Luck sit back and get comfortable. The defense could be refreshed with the possibly of Ray Lewis back in the line-up after an arm injury. Returning as well: OLB Terrell Suggs along with Bernard Pollard, both who took last week off to get healthy for this match-up. OLB Suggs vs. LT Anthony Castanzo is going to be a match-up to watch. OLB Paul Kruger (9 sacks) vs. RT Winston Justice is another key. Luck has been sacked 40 times.
Defense improving: Even during the Ravens 3 game skid the defense has improved getting to the QB. (Vs. Pittsburgh, 2 sacks, 6 QB hits) (Vs. Washington 3 sacks, 8 QB hits), (Vs. Denver 2 sacks, 5 QB hits). And their final home game versus the Giants; 3 sacks, 9 QB hits.