Throughout the season we looked at the Winning Stats, and how much each stat led to wins during the Regular Season. I also looked at recent ('01-'08) playoff history, to see how these stats translated to playoff wins. Now, it's time to put the metal to the road, and show just how the Colts will beat the Ravens.
First, I'll start with the Week 11 matchup between the Colts and Ravens, and what happened during the 17-15 Colts victory. Here's what I got out of that game:
- The Colts led the league that week in Yds/Drive, at over 41 yards/drive. That is higher than the Colts averaged during the Regular Season, and the Colts led the league in that too.
- The Colts dominated in both 3rd/4th Down % and Red Zone Efficiency, which were keys to the win.
- The Colts did a great job shutting down the Ravens run game, holding them to a RB Success Rate of 32.3%, and a YPC of 3.16.
Tables and Statistical Keys after the jump...
First, let's look at the Opponent-Adjusted Season stats for the Colts and Ravens. I've modified the Colts numbers to take out the 4 quarters the starters did not play:
|Avg Start Pos||28.9||27||29.8||14||32.4||5||27.7||2|
|3 and Outs||2.51||2||3.27||30||3.56||12||4.16||8|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.583||2||0.857||10||1.091||32||0.765||18|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||38.88||15||40.47||28||38.86||16||38.98||18|
Keys to the game:
- The top 4 categories are strong for both the Colts offense, and the Ravens defense. In 3 of the 4, the Colts have a slightly better ranking than the Ravens, with the only exception being Turnovers.
- I mentioned Yds/Drive earlier, which is the 3rd most important stat in the Playoffs. The Colts are the best in the league, and did even better against the Ravens in Week 11. If this happens again, expect a Colts victory.
- All 4 Units struggle in Time of Possession / Drive. I don't expect this to be a factor in the game.
- 3rd/4th Down Pct. is a strength for the Colts offense, and was in Week 11 as well. Equal this stat from earlier this season, the Ravens will have a tough time winning.
- The Colts score touchdowns better than anyone else in the league. The Ravens did not score a TD, and didn't get any points twice. This is also a strength of the Colts defense.
- I wouldn't expect a large YPC for the Colts, but expect them to be successful runs. The Ravens, overall, have a very good running attack. I don't think this advantage will be as large as it was last week for them.
- Drive-extending Penalties. The Colts are the 2nd least penalized team, while the Ravens are most penalized team in the league. Watch for an illegal contact or 12 men on the field penalty extending a key drive.
The biggest key, in my mind, is for the Colts to score first, and put the Ravens behind early. In games the Ravens scored first this season, they are 9-1 (including last week). In games the Raven's opponent scored first? 1-6. This will lead to multiple things happening:
- Force an injured Joe Flacco to make plays. I hope the Colts play up on the WR, and almost beg them to throw over the top. I know this is the complete opposite of the normal Colts strategy, but there is no reason to give 7 yards of cushion to WRs who won't run farther than 10 yard routes.
- The Ravens, more so than almost every team in the NFL, play off of emotion. They'll be hyped up early, ready to play. A couple of deflating plays have put them away in the past, and will play right into the Colts strengths.
Along the lines of starting fast, I really want the Colts to come out in a real no-huddle offense. The Ravens defense, when playing the Colts, tends to wait until about 8 seconds left on the play clock to actually show what they are going to do on defense, to keep Peyton Manning guessing. Manning should give them the giant middle finger, and force them to keep the same personnel on the field, and not let them actually set up on defense. This should get the Colts on the board fast, and early, leading to a Colts win.
Colts 27, Ravens 10