After going 2-14 a year ago, the Indianapolis Colts have exceeded everyone's expectations. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck looked like a seasoned veteran as he threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns. The Colts have also rallied around their head coach, Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia in the beginning of the year.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who served as the interim coach while Pagano was out, did a tremendous job leading this team to an improbable 11-5 record. But how much longer will their run last?
Baltimore is a team trending in the opposite direction, losing four of their last five games after a 9-2 start.
Still, the Ravens are an experienced team in the postseason, coming within a dropped pass of being in the Super Bowl last season. Joe Flacco is the only quarterback in NFL history to make the playoffs in his first five seasons. Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, John Elway, none of them did that.
Baltimore may have some motivation of its own as their team leader, linebacker Ray Lewis, announced that he will retire at the end of this season.
Indianapolis has allowed big plays in the running game this year and the Ravens are a team with one of the top running backs in the league. When Ray Rice carries the ball 20 times, they are 20-3. That will be the difference in this game. Rice will get 20 carries and will run for over 100 yards, leading to a Ravens victory.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Colts 17