Why was the defense so good?

It's the question on everyone's mind (well, that and why is it 65 degrees in January, but that's a different issue). Why was the defense so dominant against the Chiefs? It's hard to put a finger on any one thing. Part of it is Bob Sanders' return. Dungy called Sanders the QB of the defense. Losing him on defense is like losing Manning on offense. The other part is the slight changes in scheme, which were done because Bob Sanders was back. Without Sanders, the Colts do not switch down to a Cover 3. As much as I like Antoine Bethea or Matt Giordano, they cannot violently tackle the way Sanders can. Had Mike Doss been available, the Colts would have still gone to Cover 3. I never thought I'd see the day where I would actually miss Mike Doss.

I think the other reason the defense was so successful is the Colts goaded the Chiefs into a simplistic game plan. Prior to the game, Herm Edwards said he "smelled blood along [the Colts] defensive line." By the end of the game, the blood he was smelling was from his own team. Edwards wanted to play the kind of game Jacksonville played, and it failed miserably. It wasn't a bad game plan, but it was a game plan that if thwarted early on would spell certain doom for Edwards' team. All year, clubs have tried to run on the Colts, retain the ball, and keep Manning off the field. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Most of the time, it didn't.

Baltimore might try the same strategy. Or, they may try and spread the Colts out in a 3 or 4 WR package, just to see how Sanders will play. Will he show his hand and walk down to a Cover 3, or will he stay back in Cover 2? For more on the Ravens, I'm happy to say that our resident Baltimore scout, Playoff Pride, has provided us a report on the Ravens. Click the link to see his entire scouting report on the Ravens. Here's a segment of it:

On defense the Ravens ranked #1 overall. They defend the run extremely well, but are vulnerable to the big passing plays. Peyton Manning will have to take advantage of the secondary's inability to read play fakes and cover receivers downfield. To do this Saturday, Tarik Glenn, and the rest of the O-Line will have to play a great game. Four Ravens have 9.5 or more sacks, led by former Bronco Trevor Pryce with 13. Ben Utecht and Joseph Addai will have to do their part to keep Manning off his back as well. The Ravens have several blitz packages and come from every possible angle. Due in part to the versatility possessed by the linebackers, the Ravens can play a 4-3, 3-4, or 46. Still, this defense is not the same one from the year 2000. Most of those players are gone. Against the Saints they gave up over 150 yards and 2 touchdowns to Marques Colston, so I expect Marvin or Reggie to have a big day.

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