Colts, Ravens have a deep familiarity with one another
Ravens vs. Colts
at M&T Bank Stadium, 1 pm. ET, CBS
TV: Ravens pregame show on CSN, noon. Postgame show immediately after the game
The favorite: Ravens -7.
Last week: Ravens (10-6) lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-17; Colts (11-5) beat the Houston Texans 28-16.
Series: Colts lead 7-3.
Last meeting: Ravens won 24-10 in a regular season game on Dec. 11, 2011, after losing the previous eight in a row. The Colts, however, had backup QB Dan Orlovsky –- not Peyton Manning who was out with a neck injury.
Burning question: Will LB Ray Lewis, who announced earlier in the week that he is retiring at the end of the playoffs, be able to play at a high enough level in his first game back since Oct. 14 or will he hinder a defense that has steadily improved to 17th overall in the NFL?
Keys to victory on offense: QB Joe Flacco has to play error-free and get rid of the ball quickly in the passing game to help an offensive line that has been suspect at times. The combination of RBs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce can be lethal if used properly, and Baltimore did that against the Giants in their last victory two weeks ago. Get that duo 35-40 touches in the run and passing game, making sure to use the middle of the field where Rice can do serious damage, and the Ravens not only move the sticks but dominate time of possession. Flacco can’t fall in love with deep balls to WRs Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. They just need the ball in space –- between the hash marks –- to be effective. If they can get separation from the Colts' press coverage, big plays will be there.
Keys to victory on defense: Lewis and LB Terrell Suggs are playing together for the first time all season. The Ravens have had success in getting to quarterbacks with DE Arthur Jones and NT Haloti Ngata and stuffing the run. LBs Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger have played particularly well, too. Colts QB Andrew Luck is a good athlete and can do damage when he gets outside the pocket, so containment is key, and limiting the big-play ability of WRs Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Luck is prone to turnovers on the road, where he has thrown 13 of his 18 INTs.
Injury report: RAVENS – Questionable: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), S Bernard Pollard (ribs), G Jah Reid (toe); Probable: RB Anthony Allen (head), TE Billy Bajema (head), WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), CB Chris Johnson (hamstring), DE Arthur Jones (thigh), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder/thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), T Kelechi Osemele (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (ankle), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), WR Torrey Smith (knee), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee).
COLTS – Questionable: RB Delonte Carter (ankle), NT Antonio Johnson (ankle), C A.Q. Shipley (knee), S Tom Zbikowski (knee), T Winston Justice (shoulder); Probable: DT Kellen Heard (illness), T Bradley Sowell (illness), CB Teddy Williams (knee), LB Jerrell Freeman (thumb), QB Andrew Luck (knee), LB Pat Angerer (illness), DE Cory Redding (thigh), C Samson Satele (ankle).
Prediction: Ravens 28-17.