Colts vs. Ravens: Keys for the Ravens to Win

Gordie Gold@ggold3Correspondent IJanuary 3, 2013

Colts vs. Ravens: Keys for the Ravens to Win

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    What time is it? Game time!

    What time is it? Game time!

    Any dogs in the house? Roof roof roof roof!

    For years, Ray Lewis has been giving that same pregame speech that continues to send chills down the players and fans spines. With his recent announcement that he is planning to retire at the end of this season, chances are this is the last time Lewis will ever suit up at M&T Bank Stadium and make that pregame speech to his teammates.

    In order for the Ravens to continue Lewis' tenure as a Raven, here are the keys to the Ravens defeating the Indianapolis Colts this weekend in their wild card matchup.

Playoff Experience

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    The Baltimore Ravens clearly have an advantage over the Indianapolis Colts when it comes to playoff experience.

    Not only have the Ravens made it to the playoffs in each of John Harbaugh's first five seasons, but they have also won at least one game in each appearance.

    On the other hand, the playoffs is something new for these group of Colts. Chuck Pagano is a first-year head coach and he is going to have to make sure his rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck is ready for this type of game. 

    Regular season games are tough, but playoff football is a whole different thing. The Ravens need to take advantage of the Colts' inexperience this weekend.

Home-Field Advantage

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    The Baltimore Ravens have been known to have one of the best home-field advantages in all of football. Since John Harbaugh took over the team in 2008, the team has had a 33-7 record at home.

    Andrew Luck has struggled on the road this year. On the season, Luck has thrown 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his road games. The Ravens defense is going to have to be bringing pressure all game to try and rattle Luck. If they can force Luck into making some costly turnovers, then the Ravens will seal up the victory.

Joe Flacco

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    Every week, Baltimore Ravens fans wonder which Joe Flacco is going to show up.

    Will it be the Flacco that threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in his last home game against the New York Giants? Or will it be the Flacco that had a 0.4 QBR rating against the Denver Broncos in Week 15?

    Flacco might be the most frustrating quarterback in the NFL to watch.

    At times, he looks like he can be a top-10 quarterback. In last year's AFC Championship game, Flacco played one of the best games of his career and was one dropped pass away from taking the Ravens to the Super Bowl. At other times though, Flacco looks like he should not belong on an NFL field. His worst play of the season came against the Broncos in Week 15, when he threw a pick six in the red zone at the end of the half.

    The Ravens need Flacco more than ever. With Ray Lewis announcing his retirement earlier this week, this playoff run is going to define Flacco's career. Is Flacco going to show that he is ready to step up and take over the team? Or will he crumble under the pressure and continue his inconsistent play?

The Return of Ray

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    After 17 years of being the most dominating linebacker in the NFL, Ray Lewis is finally hanging up the cleats after this final Super Bowl run.

    Before he announced his retirement, the Baltimore Ravens were already going to have an emotional boost with Lewis returning for the playoffs. However, now that this is most likely his last game in M&T Bank Stadium, everyone in Raven nation is going to be fired up for this game.

    For so many years, Lewis has been the heart and soul of not just the Ravens team, but of the city of Baltimore. With his bone-chilling pregame speeches and relentless effort on the field, Lewis has given the Ravens and their fans a swagger that will last forever.

    The Indianapolis Colts need to watch out because when Lewis makes his last pregame introduction at home, the stadium is going to be louder than ever. Expect the Ravens to be playing with a ton of emotion on both sides of the ball, as they know this is Lewis' final shot at a Super Bowl.

    With their captain and field general back in the lineup, the Ravens are going to be one scary team to play throughout the playoffs.