Colts vs. Ravens: 6 Ravens That Must Step Up for the Ravens To Win
If you have been by the Ravens page in the last few days, you'd know that I believe that Baltimore is more than capable of taking down Indianapolis in front of its raucous home crowd.
Beating the Colts (who have won nine of their last 11 contests) will be no easy task, though, and Baltimore will have to be on top of its game if it expects to take out Andrew Luck and company.
These five players in particular will have to have a good day if the Ravens expect to come away with the win.
Let us begin with the obvious.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has seen his fair share of ups and downs in 2012.
Knocked for his abysmal play away from M&T Bank Stadium, Flacco will most certainly be relieved to be at home for Sunday's matchup against the red-hot Indianapolis Colts.
At home this season, Flacco has been solid, averaging over 295 yards per game and throwing three touchdown passes for every interception. His home QB rating is a respectable 99.0 in 2012.
Having that kind of success will be key on Sunday.
If Flacco can play well, lead the Ravens down the field and put up points on the Colts, Baltimore has a great shot at coming out with the win.
Keeping the offense on the field will also limit the amount of time Andrew Luck has with the pigskin and give a banged up defense more time to catch its breath.
The other obvious selection for this list is Ravens running back Ray Rice.
Fact is, when Ray Rice touches the ball, good things happen, and the Ravens usually win (note: this link is from December 8, 2012).
If Baltimore is going to be effective on the offensive side of the football, getting Rice over 20 touches is crucial.
Keep in mind, this is one of the NFL's best individual players from scrimmage, who has accumulated 1,621 yards on the ground and through the air and has averaged 4.4 yards per carry.
Getting Rice involved early and often will put the Ravens one step closer to victory on Sunday afternoon.
Anquan Boldin is one player who seemed to find his game in the late stages of 2012.
Some of his best games came in Weeks 13, 14 and 16.
As Joe Flacco's mid-yardage receiver and one of his better third-down options, Boldin must step up against the Colts and give Joe Flacco an option downfield if deep-threat Torrey Smith is covered.
Boldin's ability to refrain from taking penalties will also be crucial in Sunday afternoon's tilt.
In 2012, Boldin took 10 penalties totaling 95 yards after the snap, making him one of the NFL's worst offenders.
If Boldin can crack down on taking penalties and go for 80-plus yards and a touchdown, Baltimore will stand a great chance at winning Sunday's Wild Card Game.
This is a huge boost for Baltimore.
Although Lewis wasn't his normal dominant self earlier this season, he is still the Ravens' defensive and emotional leader, and his presence was still sorely missed in the middle of the field.
The Ravens' anemic run defense should receive some sort of a boost with Lewis' return and hopefully Lewis can help tighten up the middle of the field when he drops back into coverage.
If all goes according to plan, Sunday won't be Big Ray's final game in Black and Purple.
It's crunch time for Cary Williams.
While Williams has posted some impressive numbers this season, he has also been burned far too many times.
That cannot happen on Sunday against Indianapolis.
And make no mistake, he will be put to the test.
The Colts throw the ball as much as any other team in the league, with Andrew Luck attempting the fifth-most passes of any NFL quarterback.
Having Cary Williams, who is supposed to be their top cornerback, step up could help decide whether or not the Ravens move on come Sunday afternoon.
It's been a rocky 2012 for the former first-round pick, Michael Oher.
He's had trouble keeping his man from applying pressure to Joe Flacco and has been prone to taking penalties all season long.
Keeping defensive linemen from Joe Flacco is key, especially considering the fact that Flacco isn't great when it comes to pocket awareness.
Limiting penalties will also be critical, as one holding penalty can kill a drive, something that a team can ill-afford in the postseason.
If there was ever a time for Michael Oher to step up and play the game everyone knows he's capable of playing, this game would be it.