When the Indianapolis Colts travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens Sunday, it will undoubtedly be one of the most emotional games in M&T Bank Stadium history.
First, after the Colts and Ravens were set to battle in the first round of the NFL playoffs, it marked a homecoming of sorts for Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, the defensive coordinator for the Ravens last season.
In addition, Pagano has had one of the most difficult years a head coach has ever had to face. After being diagnosed with leukemia in September, Pagano battled the cancer all season long until he was able to return to his team a week ago.
The emotional ride the Indianapolis Colts have been on this season is nothing short of something from a story book. Not only have the Colts persevered through their first-year head coach's battle to survive, but they have one of the most amazing turnarounds for any franchise in just a one-year period.
A year ago, Indianapolis finished 2-14. After basically scrapping its team, Indianapolis rebuilt under the leadership of Pagano and the right arm of star rookie Andrew Luck—ending the regular season at 11-5 and a wild-card game against Baltimore.
To say the emotions on the Indianapolis Colts sideline Sunday will be held in check would be a lie.
Then we get to Baltimore, where the Ravens have been to the playoffs every year during head coach John Harbaugh’s five-year tenure.
On Sunday, Baltimore and its fans may witness the last time Ray Lewis, the man who built the Ravens, steps onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium wearing a purple jersey with the No. 52 on it.
On Wednesday, Lewis made the announcement that after the season he would be retiring—ending a 17-year career that started in Baltimore’s inaugural season.
After tearing his triceps in Week 6, Lewis vigorously rehabbed his way back—he is expected to make his return to field Sunday. An injury that would have shelved the normal NFL player for the season didn’t shelve Lewis.
He knew he wanted to return to help his team make one last run for the Lombardi—so Lewis did everything in his power to return to the field and his football family.
On Sunday when Lewis walks out of the tunnel at M&T for what may mark his last game in Baltimore, you better believe that stadium will rocking for Lewis and the Ravens.
Here are five bold predictions for Sunday’s game.