Win or lose, if you’re a football fan, this is always a great game to watch, especially when the Ravens are on defense. It’s a chess match between two of the most intelligent players in football, Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis. Watching them try to out-smart each other at the line of scrimmage is something I look forward to every time the Colts are on the schedule.
Unfortunately, ever since Tony Dungy became the head coach in Indy, the Colts have won four in a row against the Ravens. And last year, when our secondary was just as banged up as it is right now, the Colts dropped 44 points on the Ravens. I don’t see that much scoring happening this time around, but facing Peyton Manning with a depleted secondary is no easy task.
This is an intriguing match-up on both sides of the ball. The Colts have the NFL’s worst ranked run defense while the Ravens have proven that they can eat yards on the ground. The absence of Bob Sanders in that pure Tampa 2 defense contributes to the Colts’ struggles. In the Tampa 2, a run-stopping safety is equally as important as a run-stopping nose tackle in the 3-4; it’s probably the most important position on the field.
Also on the defensive side of the ball, Dwight Freeney has missed the last few practice sessions while nursing a sore hamstring. He is expected to play on Sunday; however, a sore hamstring will certainly limit his explosiveness and should help out Jared Gaither on the left side.
Pound-for-pound, the Colts have a small defense. When compared to the mammoth Ravens offense, this looks like a total mismatch. The Colts will need to utilize their team speed to pressure Joe Flacco and shoot the run gaps to win this battle. If this turns into a physical struggle, the Ravens could control the clock and sneak out of Indy with a win.
It sounds strange to say, but the #1 ranked Ravens defense could lose the game for the Ravens. With Samari Rolle out and Fabian Washington’s health uncertain, Frank Walker, Evan Oglesby, and Derrick Martin will see extended playing time. Maybe all of this negative talk about Frank Walker has gotten back to him and he’ll use this game as motivation to prove everyone wrong.
If the Ravens have any chance this week, as cliché as it sounds, they have to protect the football. One thing the Colts proved last week is that they convert turnovers to points—quickly.
My prediction: I really think the Ravens are in trouble this week. Peyton Manning vs. an injury-ridden Ravens secondary? I’ve seen this movie before…it doesn’t end well for Ravens fans. But, I do see us putting up more points this week and remaining competitive due to the Colts defensive weaknesses.
Ravens – 23
Colts – 28
Pivotal Match-Up: Frank Walker vs. whoever he’s covering. Every time #41 gets in the game, he gets picked on in a big way. If he could somehow muster a pick or prove to Peyton Manning that he doesn’t play on roller skates, he could force the Colts to alter their game plan. And realistically, Peyton hasn’t had a typical Peyton-caliber season so far. He’s missing some throws that were easy for him two years ago. I think his injury was a little more serious than the Colts would like us to believe. His pass protection hasn’t been that great either, which is something the Colts are not accustomed too.
Where it could all go wrong: The Ravens get in Peyton’s grill all day; Flacco protects the rock; Cameron grinds it out with the big backfield and runs a lot of play action to keep the Colts on their heels; Frank Walker has an out-of-body experience; Willis McGahee has a breakout game.
Surprising statistic: Since 2004, the Colts are 20-1 at home when Peyton Manning throws at least two touchdowns.
Last Week’s winner: Columbia Ken picked the closest score, predicting a 17-13 Titans victory. Actual score: 13-10 Titans
Week 4 winner: Jon R. reluctantly picked a 24-20 win for the Steelers. Actual score: 23-20 Steelers (OT)
Week 3 winner: EazyE picked a 23-13 win for the Ravens vs. Cleveland. Actual score: 24-10 Ravens.
What are your predictions this week?