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Ravens at Colts: Expect a tough matchup this Sunday

These two teams last met in a Week 16 matchup in 2017.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

In a rainy and windy Week 16 Saturday Night football game, the Baltimore Ravens, led by the franchise legend himself Joe Flacco, faced a 3-11 Indianapolis Colts team led by Jacoby Brissett.

In Chuck Pagano’s final year as head coach of the Colts, Andrew Luck missed the entire season due to injury, and the 25-year old Brissett did his best to lead a struggling Colts team.

The Ravens, who came into the game at 8-6, were once again on the brink of a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, and a win was fully necessary for them to keep such hopes alive. However, the following Sunday was when the Andy Dalton-to-Tyler Boyd touchdown throw on fourth down tarnished Baltimore’s chance at a playoff spot. As a result, the Buffalo Bills earned the Wild Card spot in place of the Ravens.

Enough of the depressing reminiscence; let’s recap how the Ravens did in their last meeting against the Colts.

In the opening drive of the game, Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense marched down the field and gave Justin Tucker an opportunity for three points, which he converted.

Baltimore’s next points came early in the second quarter when Flacco found Michael Campanaro for a wide-open, six-yard touchdown in the red zone. On Indianapolis’ next drive, Brissett and the Colts responded with a touchdown of their own. Frank Gore took a screen pass from 14 yards out and leaped in for a touchdown.

Then, the likes of Flacco, Mike Wallace, and Alex Collins allowed for the Ravens to get themselves in field goal territory to, once again, give Tucker a chance to extend Baltimore’s lead — and he converted. The Ravens lead the Colts 13-7 at halftime.

On the first drive after halftime, the Ravens failed to convert a third down in the red zone, as Nick Boyle was stopped just short of the first down marker after he caught a designed tight end screen pass. Tucker nailed another field goal and extended Baltimore’s lead to 16-7.

The rest of the third quarter saw Adam Vinatieri connect on two field goals as Brissett and the Colts offense set up a couple of well-orchestrated drives. Baltimore’s lead was trimmed down to just three as they lead 16-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Ravens put together a solid following possession and marched deep into Colts territory, setting up their offense with a touchdown opportunity. A four-yard pass from Flacco to Maxx Williams in the flat resulted in six and gave the Ravens a nice 10-point cushion with 8:40 left in the game.

On Indianapolis’ next drive, Brissett threw a number of nice balls, but wasn't able to find pay dirt. Viniatari drilled a 30-yard field goal to make it a touchdown game.

The Ravens were unable to run out the clock as a third down Flacco pass intended for Wallace was broken up, which gave the Brissett and the Colts and opportunity to put together a game-tying drive.

In an attempt to pin the Colts deep in their own territory, Sam Koch had his punt blocked, which set Brissett and the Colts up with prime territory to extend the game. Beginning the drive at Baltimore’s 23 yard line, Brissett started to deal; however, as the Ravens defense has done so often over the years, they held strong in the red zone.

A Willie Henry sack forced Brissett and the Colts to attempt to convert a fourth down and long. Then, Maurice Canady’s pass breakup sealed a 23-16 victory for the Ravens.

What can we expect this upcoming Sunday?

A well-coached Colts team led by Frank Reich and Phillip Rivers will not be an easy task for the Ravens to handle. Far too often over the years has Rivers absolutely torched the Ravens through the air.

To make matters worse, the Ravens will be without Marlon Humphrey and potentially seven other defensive players including Matt Judon, Patrick Queen, L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison, Tyus Bowser, Terrell Bonds, and DeShon Elliot.

There still remains a chance that these seven players, who were deemed at-risk because of close contact to Humphrey, who recently contracted the COVID-19 virus, could play on Sunday. Five days of negative tests will be needed for those players to play. For now, they remain out of practice and in isolation.

Should these players not play, Don Martindale will have to get very creative in attempting to stop the likes of Rivers, Jonathan Taylor, and Nyheim Hines.

In reality, winning this game will come down to the play of one player — and that’s Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens could be depleted like never before this season, and Jackson will need to play a very efficient and mistake-free game where offensive touchdowns are scored in order to beat a very solid Indianapolis Colts team. A complete antithesis from his performance against Pittsburgh will be needed from Jackson.

In addition to Jackson, big games will be needed from both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins to get things going for the team’s offense. This will be no easy task as Indianapolis’ defense currently ranks second in the NFL in total defense and second in rushing defense.

Expect a dog fight in the trenches come this Sunday at 1:00 pm.