When: 1 PM EST, CBS
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
The Ravens (3-1) will be playing the Indianapolis Colts (2-2) on Sunday afternoon, only someone needs to tell them it’s a “No-Fly Zone”. The Colts are coming off two convincing divisional wins in which they outscored their opponents a total of 85 to 34 points.
Of course, the Ravens will likely pose a tougher challenge than either the Jaguars or Titans respectively. Always boasting a notoriously stingy defense, the Ravens come in with the 7th best rush defense (82.5 rypg), and tied for 2nd in fewest points per game allowed (15.0 ppg).
Gone are long-term fixtures like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed; however, the Ravens’ defense still features All-Pro talent like OLB Terrell Suggs and DT Haloti N’gata. This is a team that in a lot of ways resembles the type of physical defense that Colts’ Head Coach Chuck Pagano, the former Ravens’ defensive coordinator, hopes to continue to build in Indianapolis.
Offensively, what you think about the Ravens, is in a lot of ways, what you can expect to get. The offense is led by QB Joe Flacco and has resently received a spark through the re-emergence of veteran wideout Steve Smith, who had 7 receptions for 139 yds and 2 touchdowns last weekend against his former team, the Carolina Panthers.
Still, the Ravens are a team that likes to run the football, first and foremost. They rank 8th in total rushing attempts and 8th in total rushing yards per game at 134.5. ypg. The team no longer employs long-time running back Ray Rice due to his domestic abuse issues. Instead, they’re currently going with a platoon of Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro at running back, who both scored a touchdown last weekend.
These teams last met in the 2012 regular season during the Wildcard playoff game that saw the Colts lose 24-9 in Baltimore on January 6, 2013. It was a losing effort that saw QB Andrew Luck throw for 0 TD’s and 1 interception. Luck and the offense are hoping for a greater offensive output, as Luck has thrown for a combined 8 touchdowns in 2 games, to 5 different Colts’ receivers.
Helped by a surprisingly strong offensive line so far, the Colts have rushed the ball quite effectively in their first 4 games, as running backs Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw have formed quite the platoon. They’ve combined for 95 attempts for 385 rushing yards (4.0 ypc) and 1 TD so for on the season.
Defensively, the Colts have been sound if unspectacular, as they rank 16th in fewest ppg allowed at 23.8 ppg. After a poor sack showing in their first two games, the Colts now hover around a league average of 8 total sacks (tied for 15th). It’s worth noting that their rush defense at 11th (104.8 ypg) is stronger than their pass defense at 21st (251.2). They are currently led by DE Cory Redding, ILB D’Qwell Jackson, and CB Vontae Davis, who are among the unit’s best defensive players.
The defense will likely receive a boost from ILB Jerrell Freeman’s return from injury (probable), who hasn’t played since Week 1 against Denver, but they also received a setback when Safety LaRon Landry was suspended 4 games by the NFL this week for performance enhancing drugs. Special teams’ ace Sergio Brown will presumably start as his replacement, as Landry serves his suspension.
It looks to be a close game between two well-coached and very good football teams.