On Sunday afternoon, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts will be taking on a returning Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. It's a great playoff matchup, and it promises to be an excellent game. So, who's going to win?
First, let's talk about the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens limped into the playoffs after losing four of their final five games of the season. Furthermore, they haven't beaten a playoff team since September when they beat the Patriots by one point.
They've really struggled recently on both offense and defense, and anyone who's seen them play will attest to that fact. Ray Lewis is returning, which will give them a much needed spark on defense, but I just don't see him being as big of a motivational factor as others seem to think he'll be.
He already motivates the team with pregame speeches as it is, and we're talking about professionals here, not high school or college players that could be swayed by a player coming back like Lewis is.
What does give the Ravens a lot of hope in this game is that Joe Flacco has been playing at a very high level over the past month. If he's able to have a two-touchdowns-with-no-turnovers type of game, he'll put them in a very good position to win. And if Ray Rice steps up as he traditionally does in the playoffs, they'll be in good shape.
Now onto the Colts, who have won five of their last six games coming into this one. Indy is going to lean heavily on Andrew Luck, who will need to have a big game if they're going to have any chance to win this one.
Indy's defense isn't all that great, and they lack a formidable rushing attack, although Vick Ballard has done a nice job as of late. The key in this game for the Colts will be if Andrew Luck throws interceptions or not. Ballhawk Ed Reed is going to be trying his best to bait the young QB into making mistakes.
Luck can't afford to fall into these traps. If the Colts want any chance to win, he's going to have to essentially be perfect.
The smart money says that he won't be. He's a rookie QB in his first playoff game. Odds are he's going to throw a couple of interceptions. Maybe he's that good and won't, but against such a good defense that's likely to have Lewis, Suggs and Reed playing, it'll be very difficult.
So, my final pick is that the Ravens will beat the Colts in a hard fought game, 27-20.