Ravens Take Advantage of Colts Mistakes; Are They for Real?

1/7/13 in NFL   |   mattmango   |   4 respect

Jan 6, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) celebrates with tight end Ed Dickson (84) after scoring on a 20-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts  in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens defeated the Colts 24-9. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY SportsYesterday the Baltimore Ravens dispatched the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 to move to the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs where they will play the Broncos at Mile High Stadium week.

The score of the game was 24-9. It is a score that indicated a game thoroughly dominated by the Ravens (as a Colts fan I knew from the beginning of the 3rd quarter once Anquan Boldin got going that this was the case). However, there should still be much concern for the Ravens heading to Denver to take on Peyton Manning next week.

Ray Rice isn't going to lose two fumbles every week, so I'm not going to pick on them for that. But that offense should be worried about the defense they're going to face, which is only the best defense remaining in the playoffs in terms of yards allowed per game (only 290 yds/game). The Colts defensive unit is a bunch of pushovers compared to the Broncos' defensive lineup. Yet somehow Flaaco and company looked lost offensively for most of the 1st half (except for the Ray Rice catch and run that inflated Flaaco's first half stats and got them an easy TD a few plays later). However on a day where the Colts were just as inept on offense and could not find the endzone, settling for three field goals, the Ravens were able to wait until the 3rd quarter where Anquan Boldin got going and that was all it took.

But do you think Peyton Manning is going to settle for three field goals and no touchdowns against the Ravens?

There has to be cause for concern with Baltimore's slow start, especially at home. On the road in Denver, they cannot afford that. After all, there is a reason they are a 9 point underdog for next week's win-or-go home game.

There are a few positives that the Ravens can build on, however. The running of Bernard Pierce combined with alley-oop passes to Anquan Boldin had this team flying high in the second half. If the Ravens maintain a balanced offensive attack they improve their chances for next week significantly. There were also some effectively returns that set up favorable field position for the Ravens by Jacoby Jones. They'll desperately need to win the field position battle against Manning, after all. Paul Kruger was also nothing short of outstanding in this game, terrorizing Andrew Luck throughout the day and even forcing a fumble from Luck.

But it comes down to two things next week: Can the Ravens defense outsmart Manning, who has been known to have had his way the Ravens throughout his career? And will the pass rush combination of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil cause Flaaco to make some rushed and/or poor decisions?

It's hard to yes to the first question and no to the second question when we saw the beating the Ravens took in Baltimore at the hands of Broncos just a few weeks back, but it's the playoffs and anything can happen.
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