Do Baltimore fans still loathe the Colts, for bolting from Baltimore? Maybe enough time has passed that most Raven fans don’t remember (it has been 29 years since the United Van Lines trucks made the infamous trip), and point most of their wrath at the Steelers – that is of course, when their not whining about the Patriots. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be a bit duplicitous to complain about the departure of the Colts, considering how they lured the Browns to pack up and move?
11-5 Indianapolis Colts at 10-6 Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, January 6 at 1:00 ET, at M&T Bank Stadium
TV: CBS – announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 5-10 MPH wind; kickoff temperature 43
Odds: Ravens favored by 7 (up from 6); total 47 (up from 46½)
Which is more important, momentum or experience? The Ravens are 1-4 in the last five games but have plenty of playoff experience, having played nine playoff games in the last four years – they are the only NFL team to have a playoff appearance in each of the last five years – but on the other hand appear to be a step slower on defense. The Colts have won 5 of their last 6 and are 9-2 in their last 11 games, but are led by a rookie quarterback.
Similar to Colt teams from the Manning era, their defense relies more on speed than strength. They flow to the ball very well but are not very good against the run (138 yards per game, 29th; 5.1 yards per carry, 31st); when the opponent features Ray Rice that could spell trouble. Rice seemed to disappear from the Ravens offensive play calling at times earlier this year, but that seems to have been rectified with a change of offensive coordinators, from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell.
Andrew Luck has completed only 54.1% of his passes and has 17 turnovers in 8 road games. M&T can be very loud, but do you have faith in Dean Pees to find a way to pressure Luck with an injury-riddled Baltimore defense?
The Colts have been riding the emotional Chuck Strong wave all season, but the Ravens may have just trumped that with Ray Lewis announcing that he will retire after this season. Can we really trust a team with a negative 30-point differential over the regular season to win a playoff game on the road?
The Colts may not be elite but they are good, and they get the benefit of playing a sluggish team that is beat up and seems to have hit the wall on defense, between Jarret Johnson bolting in free agency to the Chargers, Lardarius Webb going on IR, Terrell Suggs missing a lot of time, and Lewis and Ed Reed showing their age.
The biggest issue for the Ravens is whether they will once again fall in love with Joe Flacco throwing long passes to Torrey Smith, or will they let Ray Rice take advantage of the Colts’ run defense? Defensively the Ravens need to come up with a plan to take away Andrew Luck’s security blanket, Reggie Wayne. Wayne was targeted on 32% of the passes thrown by Luck, the 2nd highest of any player this this year. Even if the Ravens succeed in doing that though, rookie T.Y. Hilton and 4th-year pro Donnie Avery seem to have grown a rapport with Luck as well over the last few weeks. This is a tough call to predict, it looks like a very intriguing game (which of course means it will probably be a blowout).
Please note that neither I nor this website am in any way advocating, promoting or recommending gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes. It is just something I do for fun to test myself on my knowledge of the NFL. If you have a gambling problem get help; call 1-888-ADMIT-IT.
Prediction: Ravens 23, Colts 20 … √
– final score: Ravens 24, Colts 9
Colts +7 (one unit) … X
Under 47 (one unit) … √
This Day In Patriots History
January 5, 1964:
San Diego Chargers 51, Boston Patriots at Balboa Stadium
After defeating Buffalo for the AFL East title the Pats were trounced in the fourth AFL championship game. Keith Lincoln rushed for 206 yards, had 123 yards receiving, and scored two touchdowns as San Diego rolled for an incredible 610 yards of offense. Larry Garron scored the lone Pats touchdown in the first quarter on a 7-yard run, and Gino Cappelletti led the Pats with 72 yards receiving.
I read in one of the books on the history of the team that the Pats spent most of the week in San Diego, and the Chargers coach let them know about a place where they could practice, at an old armed forces facility. Story has it the offer was a set up so that they could watch the Pats’ practices and figure out their tendencies and plays – though it probably wasn’t necessary, as San Diego (12-3) was a far better team than the Patriots (8-7-1) were that year.
January 5, 1986:
New England Patriots 27, Los Angeles Raiders 20 at the Coliseum
The Patriots came from ten points down to upset the Raiders and advance to the AFC Championship Game. Jim Bowman recovered two Oakland fumbles; one set up a touchdown, and the second he scored himself for the game-winning points. The Pats defense forced six Oakland turnovers to upend the raiders, who were favored to win by six points; Fred Marion had an interception and a fumble recovery, Ronnie Lippett had two interceptions, and Don Blackmon had two sacks.
Offensively the Pats were led by Craig James, who had 104 yards rushing and a touchdown, and added 48 yards on three receptions; the other points came on a 13-yard touchdown reception by Lin Dawson, and two Tony Franklin field goals.
January 5, 1997:
New England Patriots 28, Pittsburgh Steelers 3 at Foxboro
Defending AFC champion Pittsburgh came into town high and mighty, but left in a fog – literally. In a game played in a dense fog the Pats played the disrespect card – Willie McGinest said afterwards that the Pats were sick and tired of hearing ‘Blitzbugh this and Slash that’, and it was the Patriots defense that outperformed their more well known counterparts.
The win was a special treat for Pats fans: it was the first home playoff victory in franchise history.
The Patriots defense limited Jerome Bettis to 43 yards, hounded Mike Tomczak into a 16-29 game with two interceptions (by Willie Clay and Lawyer Milloy), and then embarrassed his replacement, Kordell Stewart, into an 0-for-10 stat line. On the other side of the ball the pats ran over the vaunted Steeler run defense; Curtis Martin rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard TD that gave the Pats a 21-0 halftime lead.
The win set up an AFCCG game against Jacksonville that would feature Bill Parcells coaching the Pats against his former assistant, the Jaguars’ Tom Coughlin.
January 5, 2008:
Tom Brady is named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the 2007 season.
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January 5, 1950:
Blondie guitar player Chris Stein was born in Brooklyn
January 5, 1973:
Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings From Asbury Park
January 5, 1977:
Sony Bono died from a skiing accident at Lake Tahoe
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