Colts vs. Ravens: Andrew Luck's Inexperience Will Send Indianapolis Home Early

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 30:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts is sacked by Antonio Smith #94 of the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Texans 28-16.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts' incredible season will end on a sour note on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round.

It's enough of an accomplishment in the first place that the Colts, 2-14 last year, were able to earn a wild-card berth in the AFC. Everything after this is just an added bonus.

Indianapolis' opponent this weekend, the Baltimore Ravens, used to hang its hat on a stellar defense. Gone are those days, however, as the Ravens rank 17th in the league in total defense.

They're getting a boost—more emotional than anything else—with the return of Ray Lewis, though. He's announced that he will retire at the end of the season, so you can bet the team will have that added motivation.

Still, the Ravens certainly present the best matchup for the Colts in terms of the other teams in the AFC Wild Card Round. The Houston Texans are a much better team, and the Cincinnati Bengals are on a roll going into the postseason.

Regardless, the Colts face a major uphill battle in the opening stage of the NFL playoffs

Indianapolis finished 11-5 on the strength of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck's arm. Conversely, it's that same arm that will get the Colts in serious trouble.

The Colts are arguably the biggest long shot to win the Super Bowl. Vegas has the Colts at 80/1 to win it all (via

It's quite easy to see why nobody is giving them much of a chance. The Colts have the 22nd-best running game to complement Luck, and their defense ranks 26th overall in yards allowed (21st against the pass and 29th against the run).

When you take Luck out of the equation, Indianapolis would probably hover somewhere near 6-10 on the season. There's no question he was vital to the Colts' playoff push.

But the problem with relying so heavily on Luck is that the playoffs are completely uncharted waters for him. Sure, Luck played in BCS bowl games at Stanford, but nothing could prepare him for the cauldron that is NFL playoff football.

He'll be facing the best teams in the highest-pressure situations.

That's a worrying equation when you consider that Luck threw 18 interceptions to 23 touchdowns during the regular season. Granted, he attempted the fifth-most passes in the league, but those numbers do ring some alarm bells.

Luck is going to be a great quarterback. But that doesn't mean he won't struggle early in his career.

Great days are ahead for Indianapolis' QB. To get there, though, he'll have to go through some postseason agony.