1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Colts

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Colts
January 5, 2013, 2:45 pm
Share This Post

Colts, Ravens have a deep familiarity with one another

1. There will be tears shed when Ray Lewis comes out of that tunnel.

One of the highlights of Sunday's game will take place before it even begins, as retiring linebacker Ray Lewis makes his last appearance coming out of the tunnel for pre-game introductions. Fans, coaches and players alike might need the Kleenex.

2. Ray Rice will have at least 20 carries.

The Colts rank 29th in the league against the run, so the Ravens will do well to pound the ball on the ground, which will set up the pass. Rice is well rested after sitting out most of the regular-season finale against Cincinnati. 

3. Joe Flacco's completion percentage will be .600 or higher.

Flacco carved up the Giants, completing 25 of 36 (.694) for 309 yards in the last home game of the season and has a percentage of .622 at home this year. An effective run game should help Flacco and the passing attack.

4. Dwight Freeney will have a sack.

It's been a down season for Freeney, the Colts' all-time sack leader. Bothered an ankle sprain early in the year, he finished with five sacks, his fewest total in six years. But he has one in each of the past three games, and the Ravens have struggled with pressure on the edge.

5. The Ravens will intercept Andrew Luck.

Luck has had a sensational rookie year, but it hasn't been flawless; his 18 interceptions were one shy of the league high. Luck hasn't been intercepted in his past three games, but that streak ends Sunday.

6. The Colts will not score on their opening possession.

The Colts have 38 points on their first possession, which ranks third in the AFC behind the Bengals and Texans. But look for the Lewis-led Ravens to come out with emotion early and keep the Colts at bay.

7. T.Y. Hilton will have a catch of 25 yards or more.

The Colts rookie had five 100-yard receiving games, tops among rookies, and is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. He can turn short bubble screens into big gainers, one reason the Colts ranked third in the league with 65 passes of 20 yards or more.

8. A Ravens defensive back will have a sack.

The Colts have allowed 41 sacks this season, and if the Colts' 22nd-ranked run offense struggles, the Ravens can pin their ears back and come after Luck. Look for the Ravens to dial up some of the aggressive corner and safety blitzes that caused Eli Manning so much trouble two weeks ago.

9. The Ravens will win the turnover battle.

Considering the strong correlation between turnover margin and success -- the Ravens are 88-6 since 2000 when having at least plus-1 turnover margin -- it's hard to believe the Colts made the playoffs despite ranking 26th at minus-12. Only one other team that was negative made the playoffs. (Denver was minus-1.) The Ravens finished tied for eighth at plus-9.

10. Ravens 27, Colts 23

The Colts have been a great story this year, but the Ravens aren't ready to end the Ray Lewis story just yet. Ray Rice and the Ravens will control the game, Joe Flacco will be efficient through the air, and the Colts' turnover problems will prove costly. That adds up to a Ravens win, and the Ray Lewis farewell tour continues next week.