By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will face off against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Here’s the scouting report:
Indianapolis Colts: (11-5-0) AFC’s 6th seed
The Colts lucked out with the drafting of two studs in a little over a decade. First, Indianapolis struck gold with the drafting of future hall of fame QB Peyton Manning. And now it seems they have a young star in Andrew Luck. Even if he’s only a rookie, Baltimore will need to pay close attention to the young signal caller. This team goes as far as Luck goes. Their running game is a non factor in this matchup. But their passing game can be lethal. The Colts will look to attack a secondary that has not played its best football this season. Though they’ve looked a lot better the past few weeks, Baltimore still has some holes that Luck could exploit.
It’ll be up to Baltimore to bring pressure on the quarterback early to throw him out of his rhythm. Though Luck has had a phenomenal season, he has been prone to make costly mistakes. In 2012, Luck threw for a whopping 18 interceptions. That type of statistic is an eye opener for players like Ed Reed. If he throws it in his direction, it could mean big trouble for Indianapolis.
A lot of things have changed for Indianapolis over the past year. But the remaining constant lines up at defensive line for the Colts. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis still get after the quarterback. If Indianapolis has a lead in a game, they make it a habit of letting these guys pin their ears back and rush the passer. With the way the Ravens offensive line has played, it is imperative for the offense to put points on the board early.
Teams have found another way to counter the abilities of the Colts pass rushers. They run the football. The team’s that can do that effectively usually have success against their defense. Look for Baltimore to give the ball to Ray Rice early and often in this game. Depending on how successful Rice is, it may be very tempting for Flacco to audible into some play-action passes for huge chunks of yards. That has been Baltimore’s identity for over 5 years. They got away from that a few times this season, but now appears to be as good as time as any to re-establish that philosophy.
No one is more familiar with the Ravens outside of Baltimore than Chuck Pagano. The Indianapolis head coach helped bring Baltimore into their second AFC Championship game in 4 years. Bruce Arians coached the Colts into the playoffs while Pagano dealt with his leukemia. He is also the former offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. There will be plenty of familiarity when these two teams meet up. The Colts have history on their side in this matchup. The Colts are 8-2 All-Time against the Ravens including a 2-0 record in playoff games.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.