Today at 1:00 at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens will be playing a make or break game for their playoff hopes. If they win, their chances improve greatly. If they lose, they’re pretty much done. The Colts are undefeated, and have looked great overall. Two scares against Houston and New England were outliers to the pattern, and today, the Purple Birds will try to put an end to the Colts’ winning streak this season, and the Colts’ winning streak against the Ravens.
Peyton Manning has been phenomenal. His QB rating is above 100 and he’ll most likely pass 3,000 passing yards on the season today. He’s the first link of the chain for the Colts. He has shown several times that he can throw several interceptions in one game. He has 7 this season, and they’ve all come in a streaky pattern. He threw one in each of his first three games, and three in the last two games. He’s also only been sacked 8 times. In order to get him out of his impeccable rhythm, he needs to be knocked down and pressured. The one weakness of Manning is that he’s not mobile. He doesn’t avoid pressure well, and the Ravens need to exploit that.
The Colts don’t run the ball. They’re 29th in rushing yards per game, and have only ran the ball 201 times out of 568 total plays. That 36% of their offense. They’re uncomfortable when they run it, and frankly, not very good. The Ravens defense may not be so dominant, but they can still stuff the run as well as any squad in the NFL. If the Colts can’t run, the play action won’t be effective, which is a big staple of Manning’s success.
If the Ravens can pull off a win here, it would be huge. The fans would go crazy, the players would be dialed in and the Ravens would be back to the standard people set for them coming into this season. But it’s going to be tough. The team’s top pass rusher, Terrell Suggs is out, and Haloti Ngata is still nowhere near 100%. Todd Heap hasn’t practiced this week, and is questionable. If the stars are injured, it’s going to be a team effort. This is where their depth and unity as a team will show. This is the biggest test this season, and might be the only one if the outcome swings the wrong way.