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2011 NFL Week Fourteen Preview: Indianapolis Colts At Baltimore Ravens

After one of the most promising weeks of the seasons for the Colts, they get the privilege of heading to their former home to play the Ravens, where I'm sure they'll show the scoreboard saying "Indy" instead of "Colts". But I promise the city isn't still bitter after almost 30 years.

The Ravens come in at 9-3, and an undefeated 6-0 at home, including wins over the Steelers and 49ers. They're 3 losses however aren't to teams you'd expect (Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks), so they have slipped at times this season, but not very often. Plus all those games were on the road, making this test for the Colts even more challenging.

The Colts all-time against the Ravens are 9-2 (including playoffs), and haven't lost to them since December of 2001, a stretch of eight straight games. Only two of those eight were within 8 points, so this really has been one-sided series, and I firmly believe Peyton Manning owned this defense, which has been the best in the NFL over the past decade. There wasn't anything #18 couldn't figure out, and you could see the frustration building on the faces of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan, when he was there. Now the Defense gets their shot at the Colts without Manning, but I'm guessing it won't be quite the same as if they had beaten the Colts with Manning under center.

Can the Colts build on last week's performance against the Patriots? Let's take a look at the numbers and find out...

Adjusted Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Ravens:

Statistic Colts Ravens
Offense Rank Defense Rank Offense Rank Defense Rank
DSR 62.4% 29 73.9% 31 70.5% 12 61.9% 2
ANPY/A 4.311 28 7.329 32 6.150 9 4.143 4
Turnovers 2.19 29 1.14 31 1.84 21 2.22 5
Yds/Drive 24.16 26 31.78 25 30.39 11 24.17 5
ToP/Drive 2:16.0 31 3:01.0 31 2:41.0 16 2:30.0 6
Yds/Play 4.778 24 5.464 24 5.278 14 4.487 1
First Downs/Drive 1.34 26 1.87 27 1.76 9 1.40 6
3rd/4th Down 34.9% 22 47.8% 32 41.8% 11 32.9% 4
Avg Start Pos 25.9 32 33.6 29 32.6 7 31.8 22
3 and Outs 5.05 28 3.36 23 3.58 11 4.77 8
RZ Eff 50.5% 29 79.5% 30 65.3% 19 47.5% 2
Plays/Drive 5.077 28 5.773 27 5.790 10 5.282 7
Penalty Yds / Play 0.583 2 0.726 26 0.698 8 1.075 1
RB Success 44.1% 20 49.8% 28 45.5% 15 44.4% 14
Yds/Carry 4.23 12 4.03 15 4.11 17 3.45 2
Net Punts Yds/Game 38.93 10 40.49 28 38.46 16 37.55 11
Overall 30 32 11 3

Keys to the game:

  • The Ravens Defense, like every other year in the past decade, is very good, and hasn't really lost a step since Ray Lewis went out with a turf toe injury. It's really scary when you can't point to anything that they do bad, and there's only one thing they do average (RB Success Rate).
  • Even though the RB Success Rate looks like something the Colts could take advantage of, but they are one of the best at Yards per Carry, which means it'll be a lot of 3-5 yard gains. They'll have to stick with it though, as I think that's the only way they'll have a chance to win. They can't expect Dan Orlovsky to win games for them, as he's just not good enough to do that.
  • Speaking of Orlovsky, we'll get a truer sense of his abilities this week, as you can clearly see the Ravens defense is worlds better than the Patriots. As quick as some people were anointing him, we might see lots of people jump off the bandwagon.
  • On the flip side of the ball, the Ravens offense is actually better than they've been in the past. The drive related stats are slightly above average, and their ANPY/A is quite good, despite Joe Flacco getting really no buzz about his play this season.
  • They seem to have an issue turning it over, which is probably the reason Flacco isn't getting that buzz. Getting 2 or 3 turnovers will be huge for a Colts Defense that'll be without Jerraud Powers and possibly Pat Angerer.
  • Ray Rice is the type of back that seems to give the Colts problems, but in his two career games against the Colts he actually has more receiving yards (128) than he has rushing yards (94). I fully expect the Colts to be screened to death, trying to get the Colts to over-pursue.
  • They also aren't the greatest in the Red Zone, ranking just 19th in the league. Another way the Colts can stay in the game is by forcing Billy Cundiff field goals, but we haven't seen the Colts do that for a while, so we'll have to see.

The schedule maker certainly did the Colts no favors this season, as playing back-to-back road games in Foxboro and Baltimore is brutal, even when your team isn't 0-12. The Predictor only gives the Colts a 12.4% chance of winning, which I think is about right. I want to be optimistic after last week, but this unfortunately isn't the kind of matchup the Colts are looking for after gaining some momentum. I think the Colts are going to have a really hard time scoring points against this defense, making it a long day for our winless team.

Ravens 27, Colts 7