What Ravens need to do to beat the Colts

What Ravens need to do to beat the Colts
January 4, 2013, 11:15 am
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There's a whole lot of emotion and sub-plots coming out of Sunday's Ravens-Colts Wild Card match-up. But in the end, it's all about what happens on the field. Here's a look at some things the Ravens need to do to advance:

1. Give Ray Rice the ball -- and Bernard Pierce, too -- The Colts come into this game ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing defense. They're giving up 137.5 yards per game plus an NFL-worst 21 runs of at least 20 yards. Pierce is coming off a very good game in Cincinnati and has emerged as a solid complement to Rice, who's already one of the NFL's top backs. The biggest question here is how much Vonta Leach can help, as he's been slowed with an injured ankle all week. 

2. Let Joe Flacco do what he does well -- Flacco does a better job with mid-range, shorter passes than the bombs the Ravens repeatedly went for earlier in the season. He's got good touch on the shorter stuff and that could combine with the running game to keep the ball in Baltimore's hands. 

3. Get pressure on Andrew Luck -- He's a rookie but already plays like a seasoned veteran. Translation: he can beat you. The best way to beat someone like this is to get pressure on him and make throwing a tough task. Flush him out of the pocket and get some hits. 

4. Come up with good pass coverage -- That's the other thing which will hurt Luck. Take away his receivers, which will be tough since they've got good ones in Reggie Wayne (1,355 yards) and T.Y. Hilton (861 yards). If Luck can find them, he can cause lots of damage in lots of ways. 

5. Jump in front early -- The emotional things associated with this game are big for both teams, but especially the Ravens. They do not want Ray Lewis to lose his final game at home. That's the kind of thing which can drive a team in a big way.