Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens NFL Playoff Predictions 1/6

Last Updated: January 6th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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Andrew Luck ColtsOur 2013 NFL playoffs predictions continue on Sunday, January 6th with the Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens. We are set to make our Colts vs. Ravens predictions, tips, and keys to the game for this crucial duel in the first round of the playoffs.

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#5 Indianapolis Colts @ #4 Baltimore Ravens
Colts vs. Ravens Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Colts vs. Ravens Date/Time: TBD
Colts vs. Ravens On TV: TBD

Key #1: The stage can’t be too big for Andrew Luck
You’re not going to find a rookie quarterback that put up a better year in 2012 than QB Andrew Luck. The highly touted No. 1 pick of last year’s NFL Draft immediately came in as the starter for the Colts, and he is clearly the face of the franchise and looks like a future Hall of Famer. Luck finished the year with 4,374 passing yards, the most ever for a rookie, and he had 23 TDs against 18 INTs. Yes, those 18 picks were clearly far too many, but he has five scores without a pick in his last three games. The problem that Luck has though, is that he really didn’t play well in the biggest games of the year. He hasn’t completed more than 54 percent of his passes in any game that he has played since Week 12, and he tossed three picks in games both against the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears. The Ravens don’t have the same type of defense that they have had in the past, but they are still going to be revved up for this one and could put a heck of a lot of pressure on the rookie to get the job done, something that is rare at this level.

Colts @ Ravens Odds at WagerWeb Sportsbook
Indianapolis Colts +6.5
Baltimore Ravens -6.5
Over/Under 46.5
Click Here to Bet Your Colts vs. Ravens Picks!

Key #2: The Baltimore defense has to be fierce
When you look at the stats of the Baltimore defense this year, you have to be underwhelmed to say the least. The team finished by allowing 350.8 yards and 21.5 points per game, and the squad allowed 25.0 points per game against teams that finished .500 or better this year. However, when you really look closer at it, S Bernard Pollard missed three games, LB Ray Lewis missed 10 games, DT Haloti Ngata missed two games, LB Terrell Suggs missed eight games, and LB Jameel McClain missed three games. It’s still early in the week, but as of Sunday night, it seems as though all of these players are going to be able to give it a go in the playoffs. Suggs is the most suspect right now with a bicep injury. It’s not about the yards, or even so much the points as much as it is the fact that the team has to be intimidating. It has always been a nightmare for an offense to go into Baltimore to play a game, especially with men like Lewis and S Ed Reed waiting in the wings to get the crowd and the rest of the defense fired up. When Luck gets under center, Lewis needs to look him square in the face and strike some fear into him and the rest of these young offensive players for the Colts. If that turns out to be the case, everything should be just fine for the Ravens. If Luck and the gang get some confidence right away though, there could be some real problems.


Key #3: Baltimore has to pound the ball on the ground
When the Ravens have been at this best over the years, they have always been able to run the ball in the most crucial of situations. Recently though, they have put more on the back of QB Joe Flacco, and this year, the team actually threw the ball 35.0 times per game, as opposed to the 27.8 rushing attempts per game. That’s why it really didn’t feel like the greatest year in the world for RB Ray Rice, who only finished up the campaign with 1,143 yards and a total of 10 TDs. Whether it be Rice or RB Bernard Pierce, it is clear that the Ravens are going to need their rushing offense to get the job done in this one. The Colts had a rush defense that was absolutely atrocious at times this year, and this has really always been the soft underbelly that this club has brought to the table in the playoffs. Indy’s rush defense ranked 28th in the league this year at 137.5 yards per game allowed, and the team allowed 352 rushing yards against the Kansas City Chiefs just two weeks ago, proving that it is a team that can still be had for sure.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Sunday, January 6th, 2013 @ 1:41 am (EST)
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