While the pain of the last minute loss to the New England Patriots is still fresh in the minds of most Ravens fans, the players have moved onto the next challenge. The Indianapolis Colts invade M&T Bank Stadium for a prime time matchup on Sunday Night Football. Last time the Colts were in Baltimore was when they ousted the Ravens from the playoffs last January in a 15-6 victory. This was a game that most Ravens fans thought they should have won, done in by a Steve McNair interception at the goal line as well as five Adam Vinatieri field goals. This year's game was supposed to have major playoff implications, but now it is just pride that the Ravens are playing for. They reclaimed some of it last week with an impressive showing against the undefeated Patriots, but lost their composure at the end of the game. This weekend, the Ravens hopefully have learned from their mistakes and are focused on paying back the Colts for their early exit last year.
The Colts may be without Marvin Harrison, but as long as #18 is in the backfield, it really shouldn't matter. Indy will try to get the ground game rolling, but will probably have the same limited success that all the other teams in the league has had against the stout Ravens run defense. Manning will go to the air and while Reggie Wayne will be closely guarded, you just know he will hook up with Manning for a long one at some point. The biggest threat in my mind will be tight end Dallas Clark, whose third down catch towards the end of last year's game helped seal the Ravens fate. Clark is too strong for a safety or nickle back and too fast for a linebacker to cover. Either bumping him at the line of scrimmage or putting so much pressure on Manning, forcing him to remain in pass protection will be the only ways to slow him down. Last year the Ravens kept the Colts out of the end zone, but didn't get there themselves either.
In order to keep Manning off the field, the Ravens will need to establish the running game like they did on Monday night against New England. Long sustained drives will give Kyle Boller the time to mix in the play action pass along with a big dose of Willis McGahee. Together, if they play mistake-free football they will definitely have a shot of upsetting the Colts this weekend. In fact, I see the renewed confidence, change in QB's from McNair to Boller and return to health of cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister beginning to change this team into the one we all expected to see after last year's 13-3 season. This renewed attitude, along with controlling their intensity and emotions, will lead the Ravens to the level of play they will need to rise up and give their suffering fans something to actually cheer about for one of the few times all season as they "shock the world" and upset the Colts!
What will be the outcome of tonight's Ravens-Colts game?
This poll is closed
Colts win and cover the 9 pt. spread
Colts win but don't cover the spread.