Indianapolis Colts: 5 Reasons Why the Colts Will Lose to the Ravens

Andy KontyCorrespondent IIJanuary 5, 2013

Indianapolis Colts: 5 Reasons Why the Colts Will Lose to the Ravens

0 of 6

    I am a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, and I am not enjoying making this prediction.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Colts reload and serve notice on their NFL competition that the organization is more than just a one Manning show.

    I want the Colts to beat the Baltimore Ravens and take their chaotic show on the road one more week.  I want the Colts to wipe the smirk off Ray Lewis’ face.  I want my nice comfy seat on the Indianapolis Colts' bandwagon.

    But I’m afraid I am going to have to bail. 

    I tried to hang on, buoyed by the persistent claim that the Colts have momentum and the Ravens do not. But it doesn’t matter; a team’s performance at the end of the regular season has very little effect on their playoff success. 

    The Colts’ thumping of the slumping Texans filled the room with fresh hope that these Colts are for real. They are, or more precisely, they will be. 

    On Sunday, the favorable winds that have propelled the Colts sails all season will change directions.  The Colts’ inspiring season comes to end in Baltimore.

    Here's why.

Poor Matchups for the Colts

1 of 6

    I can no longer cook the books or fudge the numbers, so I will let the numbers speak for themselves.

    Stat

    (Rank)

    Rushing

    YPG

    Yards

    Per rush

    QB

    Rating

    QB Sacks

    per game

    Turnovers

    per game

    Scoring

    PPG

    4Q

    Scoring

     

    Colts

    Offense

    104.4

    (22)

    3.8

    (26)

    76.4

    (27)

    2.6

    (23)

    1.7

    (23)

    22.3

    (19)

    5.8

    (11)

    Ravens

    Defense

    122.6

    (20)

    4.0

    (10)

    80.6

    (11)

    2.3

    (16)

    1.6

    (15)

    21.5

    (13)

    5.1

    (8)

     

    Stat

    (Rank)

    Rushing

    YPG

    Yards

    per rush

    QB

    Rating

    QB Sacks

    per Game

    Turnovers

    per game

    Scoring

    PPG

    4Q

    Scoring

     

    Colts

    Defense

    137.5

    (29)

    5.1

    (31)

    90.1

    (22)

    2.0

    (23)

    0.9

    (30)

    24.2

    (21)

    6.0

    (12)

    Ravens

    Offense

    118

    (11)

    4.3

    (12)

    86.4

    (16)

    2.4

    (20)

    1.0

    (3)

    24.9

    (11)

    5.5

    (14)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If there is a glimmer of hope it can be found in an often overlooked stat, penalty yards per game.  Theactual yards do not have a large impact on the game’s outcome, but the more penalties a team has, the more likely it is that one or more of those penalties will come at a key time in the game. 

    Penalties can kill an offense’s drive or prolong a drive against a team’s defense.  In tennis, they call this an unforced error and these were crucial in all seven of the Colts’ come from behind victories.

    The Ravens are last in the league in penalty yards per game and 31st in the number of penalties they commit per game.  The Colts lead the league in opponents' penalty yards and the number of penalties committed against them.

    Here is the hidden key to this game for the Colts: the Colts are second in the league in first downs from opponents' penalties with 2.6 first downs from penalties per game and the Ravens are fifth in giving up first downs via the penalty, 2.1 first downs per game.  If the Ravens keep shooting at their feet, they are bound to hit something.

    I am certain that someone in the comments section will say that “there is more to football than the numbers” or that “games are not won on paper”.  Whatever gets you through the day baby, whatever gets you through the day.

Living on the Edge Means You Will Eventually Fall off the Cliff

2 of 6

    Chaos Theory proposes that very small changes in a system can have dramatic effects on the eventual outcomes.  This is most commonly known as the Butterfly Effect.

    For the Colts, the butterfly's beating wings are their opponents' ill-timed unforced errors—penalties, a turnover, a dropped pass, a missed field goal—that kept the Colts in games long enough for Andrew Luck to engineer a heroic late-game winning drive.

    The Indianapolis Colts won 11 games this season, the second best turnaround in NFL history.  Only three of those wins, however, came in games where the Colts led their opponent going into the fourth quarter.  In the other seven games, the Colts had to come from behind with a game winning touchdown drive, tying an NFL record.

    NFL records are fine accolades, but what do these particular achievements signify? 

    The “turnaround” record tells us that this team was really bad last year.  Given the NFL rules governing free agency and salary caps, it also tells us that most of this year’s roster is the same as last year’s roster.  Certainly the new roster has performed better, but we are left to ponder whether this team’s current record is an actual indicator of their true strength, or whether the team is over performing.

    The “most game winning TD drives” record tells us two things.  First, the Colts’ quarterback is not fazed by pressure situations and actually seems to perform better as the pressure increases.  Second, the Colts were behind in the fourth quarter in those seven games. Overall, the Colts trailed or were tied going into the fourth quarter of nine games. 

    This method of winning games is simply unsustainable.  Chaos theory can tell us that small breaks can change a game, and the probability distribution can tell us that any team will win some games where they are outplayed.  Eventually, however, we will get regression to the mean, i.e. the Colts’ luck will run out.

Luck Wears Down

3 of 6

    Nobody wants to hear this because Andrew Luck is one of the NFL's best stories this season.  Colts' fans refuse to hear this because Andrew Luck is Superman.  

    Except that he's not.

    Andrew Luck broke all of Peyton Manning's rookie passing records, mostly because he played every game this season.  And that is part of the problem.

    Luck has not played more than 13 games in a single football season.  On Sunday he suits up for his 17th game playing every snap from scrimmage for the offense.  This is not counting the preseason.

    I don't care how big and strong, how mentally tough the lad is, it is a simple matter of biophysics that the extra games will start to take its toll on his body.  

    Let's not forget the 49 sacks, ninth in the NFL, and the 116 QB Hits, second in the NFL.  The laws of physics are immutable.

    In the first 13 games of the season, Luck averaged 22.7 completions on 41.3 pass attempts per game, completing 55 percent of his passes.  In the last three games Luck threw the ball an average of 30 times per game, completing 14.7 or 49 percent of his passes.  Luck is both throwing fewer and completing a lower percentage of his passes since he hit the 13-game mark.

    Unfortunately, the one activity that can take a greater toll on a quarterback's body, running with the football, increased during the last three games.  In the first 13 games Luck averaged 3.8 attempts per game for a 4.6 yard per run average.  In the last three games he carried the ball an average of 4.3 times per game for only 2.5 yards per rush.  He is actually running the ball more late in the season with lower results.  

    The one favorable indicator in the late-game numbers is that Luck has zero interceptions in the last three games, compared to 18 in the first 13 games.  He is also averaging a third of a touchdown pass more.  While he's completing fewer passes at a lower rate, he is not turning it over as much and he is making more scoring plays.

    A sober reflection on these numbers should tell us that Luck is maturing as a quarterback and making fewer mistakes, which is good.  But the numbers also demonstrate that he is tiring as the season wears on, not so good.

    Sure, Luck is a young man, with seemingly unlimited amounts of energy.  He is also a rare warrior, as mentally tough as they come.  That carried him in the last three games.  At some point the laws of physics will catch up to him no matter how strong he is mentally.

Odds Spreading

4 of 6

    According to the Vegas Insider, the Colts opened the week a six-point underdog.  The point spread has now risen to a full touchdown consensus. 

    Why does this matter?

    One compelling aspect of betting lines is that they reflect the opinions of thousands of people and millions of their dollars.  Most sports gamblers have no allegiance to either team so in some sense these judgments are the most “objective” you are likely to find anywhere.

    Some of these gamblers are better analysts than others and as the number of bets placed increases, the number of informed analyses increases.  The law of large numbers begins to converge the sample’s judgment on whatever the “real” judgment should be.

    Point spreads are designed by bookies to “middle” the population of bettors.  The sports books make money only if half of the bets are placed on each outcome.  If more bets are placed in one direction, the betting line moves to attract more bettors to the other outcome.

    If a betting line moves against a team as more and better informed analysts announce their judgment, it suggests a real and objective judgment that the outcome of the game is going that way.  The consensus among the people who put their money where mouth is that the Colts will lose.

    Besides, I’m taking the Colts on the money line (+250), so they will certainly have a bad day.

Ray Lewis Returns

5 of 6

    Reports out of the Ravens' locker room tell a story of a man possessed.  Two weeks after surgery to repair a torn bicep, Lewis was already lifting weights.  He could have played a week later, but the Ravens had already officially listed him on the NFL's injured reserve list.

    Now he is off that list and he has the eye of a Siberian tiger.  Don't talk to me about rust, any veteran with this much experience only needs his fitness. He'll adjust to the game speed and conditions.  

    Adding to Ray's physical return is his symbolic return, and departure.  Lewis announced that he is retiring at the end of this season.  This will likely be his last game ever in Baltimore.  

    If you thought the Colts fans gave their team a boost when their new coach returned, imagine what kind of boost the Ravens' fans will give up for their returning gladiator.  I don't believe in game-to-game momentum, but within game momentum is real and Uncle Mo will park his stadium chair on the Ravens' sideline.  

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

6 of 6

    Never fear Colts fans, people have been predicting the Colts demise all season long.  I won’t be surprised at all if I am completely wrong and the Colts spoil the Raven’s going away party for Mr. Lewis. 

    But I don’t think it will happen. 

    Colts fans should count their blessings, look back on a fine year that saw their coach go down with the cancer and fight his way back, a 10-6 record that obliterates the memory of last year’s 2-14 season better than Wild Turkey, and the emergence of the league’s newest superstar with a posse full of young talent.

    It was a good ride while it lasted.