The biggest key to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts’ six game winning streak over the Ravens hasn’t been overwhelming talent or coaching; it has been Manning’s ability to know exactly where the Ravens are and how to get to where they aren’t.
And that’s not just throwing away from hapless Raven defensive backs. When the Ravens want to blitz, he turns them into a twisted web of deep coverage.
When they want to fall back, he artfully directs a short passing game mixed with occasional runs into the teeth of the defense.
It’s simple enough to throw out the cliches of “make Manning feel pressure and hope for mistakes,” but he’s been in the league too long and seen too much film for cliches to have any effect.
The key to the Ravens’ success today won’t have anything to do with defensive pressure, and everything to do with offensive continuity.
If the Ravens can sustain drives with running the ball, they’ll limit Peyton’s chances for long drives that tire out defenses.
If Joe Flacco can find holes in the Cover 2 defense down the field, and change his looks up with routes over the middle to tight ends and backs, the Colts’ defense won’t have time to adjust before the Ravens’ offense can put up points of its own.
The first step to beating the Colts is in knowing that beating their offense isn’t an option. If the Ravens commit to making their own offense the better defense on the day, they’ll have a better chance of breaking the Mayflower spell.