I’ve been going back and forth with this game all week. It has thrown me for a loop, tormented my gambling mind and kept me up at night.
Okay, I’m messing with you, but this game really is a tricky son of a bitch, isn't it? You’ve got so much emotion flowing through this one, the building in Baltimore is going to be electric.
For many Baltimore natives, today could be their all time favorite player's last dance. The iconic Ray Lewis has announced that this will be his final season of playing the game he loves.
I’m trying not to put too much stock into the Ray-Ray factor, but if there’s one player whose retirement announcement means something to the team and fanbase, it’s this freaking guy.
Then you’ve got Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who has battled back from cancer and inspired his team, city, and NFL fans around the world.
It seems that his players truly love this guy, and that goes for Ravens, too. Pagano was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, and players like Lewis and Ed Reed have not been shy about saying how much they love the dude.
Don’t underestimate the factor of Pagano’s intimate knowledge of the Ravens defense. You think he’s not giving rookie QB Andrew Luck every crumb of intel that he can muster on Baltimore’s defensive scheme? Think again.
Luck has been unreal this season and rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been simply awesome as a counterpart to the ageless, terrific Reggie Wayne. This Indy offense is dangerous, and Baltimore’s defense is certainly not what it once was.
All-Pro Terrell Suggs missed half the season with a torn Achilles, and while he has played well since returning, he hasn’t been quite his dominant self.
Ray Lewis will be playing his first game in two months after tearing his triceps, and Baltimore's best corner, Lardarius Webb, is out for the season.
Sure-fire Future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed is still a beast, but he is not immune from the aging process. This defense ranked 17th in the league this season, which is simply unacceptable by Ravens standards. They’ve been a top-five defense for what seems the last decade.
One statistic that really jumps out to me is that Indianapolis has the 29th-ranked run defense. Today the Colts will be up against one of the best in Ray Rice, who I expect to have a huge day.
While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts win this game, my gut is telling me that Baltimore's defense will rally around its heart and soul, Ray Lewis, the building will be absolutely rocking, and Ray Rice will run wild.
Pick: Baltimore 31, Indianapolis 23