Regardless of which camp you’re in — ‘lose for draft purposes,’ or ‘win for fandom’ — the Indianapolis Colts have a lot to prove this week when they travel to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens. Right now the Ravens are nearly as hot as anyone in the league winning 5 of their last 7 and having lost those 2 by a combined total of 4 points.
The Colts on the other hand, while they have lost 6 of their last 7, aren’t getting blown out with an average loss of 6.5 points which includes a 20-point loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars as well. Their absolute downfall has been their inability to put points on the board virtually all season.
They have only put more than 23 points up twice this season, and have only a single 20-point game in the last 6 games. Simply put, this is not a good Colts team right now and they’ll be suiting up against a Ravens squad in the thick of a real playoff push with everything to play for.
Since after their bye in Week 10, the Ravens have outscored their opponents 215-to-108 (30.7 PF Vs 15.4 PA), and are sitting at 8-6 which is tied with both current wild card holders in the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.
Joe Flacco, who’s been only slightly more productive than Jacoby Brissett this year with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, has been on the right side of a bad season over the past month-plus. In his last 5 games he’s been accurate, going 111-173 (64.2%) adding 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
It’s pretty fair to say that the Colts are up against it this week, as they are most weeks. With the addition of more being added to the ever-growing Injured Reserve list — Ryan Kelly and Jon Bostic — and some key contributors such as Johnathan Hankins (shoulder) and Denzelle Good (knee) unable to practice yet this week, the outlook is bleak for those hoping for a win. If you’re on the other side of hope for a better draft slot, then you may be in luck this week.
Thus, I have 3 predictions for their matchup with the Ravens and they unfortunately mirror the matchup presented on paper.
Colts Allow 150-plus Rushing Yards
If you’ve had anything that made you feel as if the Colts defense has been making some strides in to the right direction this early in the transition it’s been the stretches of time that the Colts run defense has been pretty darn good. Lately, however, they have been looking like the run defenses of recent seasons.
The Colts have literally been two different teams in this category. For example, the Colts allowed 428 rushing yards between Week’s 8 and 13 allowing just 3.37 yards per carry (5th) and didn’t give up a single 100-yard game. The last two weeks, though, they have allowed 440 rush yards at a clip of 4.58 yards per carry (21st) allowing back-to-back 200-yard performances.
Bostic has been placed on IR, Hankins is nursing a shoulder injury, Antonio Morrison is one of the worst-graded linebackers (per PFF) against the run and the team is in the bottom-third of the league in stuff percentage according to Football Outsiders. One of those 200-yard performances was allowed in a foot of snow, while the other was given up against the Denver Broncos who have been the 25th ranked rush offense the last 5 weeks.
Baltimore hasn’t been much better than that of Denver, but the combination of playing against a desperate team and having a depleted defense doesn’t bode well for the Colts.
Colts Don’t Put Up More Than 10 Points
Get used to this not being a positive prediction piece expecting the Colts to beat the odds, and changing their trend of playing terrible football. Sometimes it’s just who teams are at this point in the season.
Over the past month the Colts have put up a whole 11.5 points per game earning the fewest touchdowns (4) in that time span as well as the fewest yards per play (3.89) in the league. It’s been disgusting considering the Colts aren’t completely void of legitimate playmakers on that side of the ball.
Additionally, the Ravens are +9 in turnover differential versus the Colts sitting at +2, and despite doing it against 5 offenses in the bottom half of the league the Ravens are still ranked No. 2 against the pass and are 9th against the run according to FO’s DVOA model.
Unfortunately, having only one skill position player with 1000-plus yards from scrimmage this season, getting only 150 receiving yards and 1 touchdown out of T.Y. Hilton over the past 6 games and the team only putting up 4 total touchdowns over the past month doesn’t lead us to assume that anything will be changing this week.
Colts Don’t Earn a Single Sack Vs Ravens
Is there a larger single determinant of losing than earning the second-fewest sacks (22) in the league while simultaneously allowing the most (53)? Well, maybe, but that list is certainly very short. The fact that the Ravens are top-10 squads in, both, rushing the passer as well as protecting their quarterback.
So what are the paper matchups in these categories as of late you ask? Much of what you’d expect I would imagine. Over the coarse of the past month, the Colts have created 4 sacks (tied with 2 others for 29th in the league) and have allowed 14 (T-30th). The Ravens, on the other hand, have 10 sacks (10th) and have only allowed 3 (2nd) over that same time span.
No Ryan Kelly, Denzelle Good is nursing a knee injury, as little as 26% — Henry Anderson, John Simon and Bostic), and feasibly as much as 43% (add in Nate Hairston and Hankins) of the Colts sack production could be out for this one with only Jabaal Sheard and Margus Hunt left seemingly capable of generating their own pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Unfortunately this is just where the Colts are right now and while it’s a shame that these are my expectations for Saturday’s game, they’re also legitimate.