Every visit from the Indianapolis Colts creates a high level of tension in the city of Baltimore, considering the way the franchise left town and bucked the city around like it was their rocking horse.
Needless to say, Robert Irsay’s betrayal to the city is something that will forever be remembered by Baltimore fans as well as the scene from that snowy night in Baltimore of the Mayflower trucks leaving the stadium headed for Indianapolis. To this day, when the Indianapolis Colts play a game in Baltimore against the Ravens, the name Colts is not used. The Colts are introduced at the stadium as the Indianapolis professional football team and referred to as Indy on the scoreboards.
This particular divisional playoff game is so important to the city of Baltimore and the Ravens fans because they would love nothing more than to end the Super Bowl hopes of the team that left their city in March of 1984.
But put ancient football history aside, the Ravens may have more to worry about.
The Colts are the best team in the AFC and are bringing a 14-2 record with them. And the last time the Colts and the Ravens met this season, the Ravens couldn’t even score a touchdown. They had to settle with five field goals before leaving the field with an “L” and a score of 17-15.
The Colts have always been more concerned with their offensive output. But who could blame them? They have Peyton Manning, the 4-time MVP award winner, leading their team.
To top it off, the Ravens have been inconsistent at times in the kicking game and lack the strength of the Colts kicking game as Indianapolis has former Ravens kicker, Matt Stover, on their side line.
But maybe the glass isn’t half empty for the Ravens, after all.
The Colts defense has never been dominant and they rank in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game. The Ravens, on the other hand, have one of the top rushing attacks in the league, thanks to Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.
Could we be smelling trouble for the Colts?
Especially since the Ravens are still hot from their win over the Patriots. There was no better time for that win to occur as Baltimore survived to live another day. They will move on to face their rivals from Indianapolis for a chance to return to the AFC Championship game.
Maybe Jim Caldwell’s decision to rest his starters in the final two weeks of the season wasn’t such a good decision after all. Sure, they were undefeated and the only team left with a perfect record, but now look at where they are. They’ve lost both of those remaining games to the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. And now must face the Ravens.
He better hope those starters are really rested.
I believe that the move by Caldwell puts huge pressure on the Colts and their organization to win the Super Bowl this year. In my opinion, the Colts could have easily had a perfect record if they continued to play all their starters.
The team will be out of sync since they have not played an entire game together in the past three weeks.
Who cares if they’re out of sync. If they don’t win, they’ll lose the trust of their fan base. Plain and simple.
So in order to win, the Colts must shut down the Ravens running game which has been led by Ray Rice. Rice has been Mister Everything for Baltimore this year as he leads the team in rushing for 1,339 yards with seven touchdowns and also leads the team in receptions with 78 for 702 yards and a touchdown.
Baltimore must also find a way to work the passing game into the game plan as Joe Flacco struggled mightily against New England on Sunday. Flacco only attempted 10 passes and completed just 4 of them for 34 yards with an interception. The Ravens must set up the play action pass and take advantage of the Colts defense as they will be focusing on the rushing attack from Baltimore.
The Colts are a very good team, but with their lack of playing time and the Ravens’ high powered defense, the game could be a close match if the Colts get themselves in a deep hole early.
The Ravens must stick to their game plan and control the time of possession over the Colts. They must put as much pressure on Peyton Manning as they did against Tom Brady.
My prediction is that the Ravens will move on to the AFC Championship game where they will face the San Diego Chargers.
And the city of Baltimore may finally get their revenge.