Wild Card Round: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday January 6, 2013
Line: Ravens -7 O/U 49
This is it folks. The moment that we wait for all year long, the moment we hope for, the moment we yearn for. It’s playoff time once more. This weekend the old ghosts of memory roll back into town to do battle with our boys of Baltimore. Will the Ravens exorcise the Colts from our lands, or will this truly be Ray’s final ride? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.
Baltimore Gridiron Report Keys to the Game
1st and Ten: Run with Ray
Despite featuring the likes of many stalwart former Ravens, the Colts have struggled on defense all season long. More to the point their run defense has been particularly anemic. Even with the return of fan favorite Cory Redding the Colts have serious issue with premier runners.
Obviously the solution is readily apparent. Run the ball with Ray Rice for as long as the Colts will allow you to do so, and then when you can’t run anymore you air the ball out through play action. Keep it simple.
2nd and Long: Pressure Luck
This is another obvious key to the game. We all know that Luck is going to want to throw the ball and dictate the pace early. His stable of runners aren’t anything to sneeze at but they’ve been the weaker aspect of the offense all season long, which means of course Luck has been forced to air it out.
To counter Luck’s talent and his proclivity for throwing deep down field the Ravens have got to focus on getting pressure on luck and getting in his face as often as possible. Keep him contained in the pocket get pressure on him and force him to the ground or into an errant throw.
3rd and Short: Downfield Control
Just a moment ago I talked about how Luck has a habit of throwing the deep ball downfield. He has two young unheralded wide outs who have developed into legitimate talents thanks in parts to Luck’s ability. It’s a big reason why the Colts are sitting pretty right now in the wild card round and not golfing in Maui.
To counter his natural talent the Ravens have got to focus on controlling the game downfield. The have to play tight at the line knock receivers off their routes and stick to them like glue from whistle to whistle.. If you let players like Reggie Wayne get separation the Colts will burn you badly. Keep them in check.
4th Down: Max Protect
I’m keeping this one here from last week, because it still rings very true. I expect that Dennis Pita is going to have another quiet down week against the Colts barring injuries that force him to play more. He’s not as good a blocker as Billy Bajema and he’s not as quick as Ed Dickson, so he’ll likely be relegated to a third TE this week so the Ravens can essentially repeat their performance against the Giants where they neutralized the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul with well executed Max Protect. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are two of the best in the game, and they WILL make you pay if you allow them to do so. That however, does not mean they can’t be neutralized. If you keep them off balance they have a habit of being frustrated and ineffective. This is the job the line this week, to leave it all out on the line and allow Joe to chew this Colts defense up.
Extra Point: Focus Emotions Down to the last man on Sunday the Ravens will be playing their hearts out for Ray Lewis. He is the soul of this franchise and no one, and I mean no one wants to be responsible for sending him west. However, emotion cannot run uncontrolled. It must be honed, it must be tempered and it must be focused. Unchecked emotion leads to sloppiness, focused emotion leads to domination.
Controlled, determined and willing, this team is unbeatable. If they rally behind Ray and play for him. There is no force on heaven or on earth that will stop their quest. But they have to use the momentum smartly.
Jonathon Scruggs (9-7)
To see their Gods the Greeks would gaze to the Heavens and imagine great victories. We have but to gaze upon the fields. Our Gods play Sundays, and we the lucky few have had the pleasure of standing beside the greatest of them all. For him, and for us all, the Ravens win this game and move on. Ravens 23 — Colts 13
Matt Jergensen (10-6)
As long as the Ravens take care of the ball I could see this one getting out of hand. The Ravens are a tough out at home, with an improving defense over the past six games and a ton of playoff experience. Luck will have plenty of playoff memories in his career, this won’t be one of them.
Ravens 31 – Colts 17
Gene Winner (13-3)
For me this game is all about Ray Lewis. It could be his final home game at M&T Bank. Ray brought so many memories, a Super Bowl and level of play unmatched in sports. We’ve been lucky to be fans during his career. So, I’ll be enjoying the game with these memories in mind. With that said, we should see a inspired Ravens team.
Ravens 34 – Colts 20
Ben Zinman (11-5)
The Colts will play well initially but in the end it will be all Ravens.
Ravens 31 – Colts 21