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NFL Playoffs Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts head to their old stomping grounds to take on the Baltimore Ravens in what promises to be a very intriguing matchup.  The home stretch into the playoffs could not have gone more differently for these two teams.  The Ravens have lost 4 of their last 5 games whereas the Colts have won 5 of their last 6 and 9 of their last 11.  Andrew Luck has proven why he was the first overall pick, but he isn’t going to be satisfied with a one and done in the playoffs.

Key Matchup: Turnovers.  This game is going to be decided by who gives the ball to the other team.  Both sides are going to be able to move the ball; not that these offenses are all that great, but both defenses have failed to slow teams down all year.  I expect Ray Rice to have a big day running the ball to set the pace for the Ravens, while I think Andrew Luck will have an easy time racking up points for Indy.  Three or four turnovers by either of these teams will be a death sentence.  Whoever takes care of the ball better is going to move on.

Player to watch: Joe Flacco.  Flacco isn’t the player to watch because I think he’s going to light up the Colts secondary but because he really has something to prove.  He hasn’t been anything more than mediocre in the playoffs and, in the past, the defense was good enough to get them a win or two but not this year.  Flacco is averaging only 170 yards in each of his playoff games and has thrown 8 TDs and 8 picks.  Those numbers aren’t going to get it done against the Colts.  This isn’t the defense of old, the Colts are going to put up points.  Of course the Ravens will be leaning on Ray Rice (at least they should) but Flacco has to be better than he has been if the Ravens want to win this game.

My Prediction:  Colts 31 Ravens 30.  I think this is going to be an extremely close game.  I really think it’s going to come down to which quarterback can protect the ball better and I can definitively say I trust the rookie Andrew Luck more than Joe Flacco. 

Neither team is going to have a particularly hard time scoring but there will be a key turnover either near the end of the game or half that will turn the tide of this game.  Likewise, there is just too much history between surging and skidding teams; hot teams win in the playoffs.  I think Indy goes into Baltimore and Andrew Luck and company come out with a win against the skidding Ravens.


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