The playoffs are set and the Baltimore Ravens will play host on Wild Card Weekend to the red-hot Indianapolis Colts. The game will take place at 1 p.m. on CBS, Sunday, January 6. This will be the third postseason meeting between the two teams, the other two games being won in dominant fashion by the Colts.
These are really different teams from those that played in the previous two games, the last of which occurred after the 2009 season. For one, the Colts are now quarterbacked by rookie phenom Andrew Luck instead of "Ravens Killer" Peyton Manning. Luck is a Rookie of the Year candidate, but comparisons to Manning are definitely premature after only one season.
Two, this game will actually be in Baltimore. For the second year in a row, Ravens fans get a home game. This is a welcome relief for a Ravens team that for so many years was destined to play on the road in every playoff game as a lowly wild-card team. It's also a scary thing for the Colts, who will go to a stadium that the Ravens have lost exactly once in the last two seasons.
While signs like these bode well for the Ravens, there are other things to be considered. The Colts have won five of six and are coming off a 12-point demolition of the AFC South champion Houston Texans.
The Ravens have lost four of five and are still injured on defense. They've also had crippling offensive meltdowns that have cost them four loses in close fourth-quarter games, the kind of games that the Colts live for.
Luck has been phenomenal in the fourth quarter, with four fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives. Even with his 18 interceptions, the guy is dangerous when games are close.
Here are some of keys for a Ravens victory Sunday. Even with the Colts being a feel-good story who some would say are lucky to be in the playoffs, they can't be taken too lightly. It's win or go home, and the Ravens will need to follow at least some of these keys to get the win and advance to the divisional round.