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Ravens at Colts

Divisional Playoff

1/16/10

I made mention last week of my futures position on the Ravens to win the Super Bowl, at 50-1 odds. Not a bad wager considering they are down to 12-1 huh? So, yeah, I obviously like this Ravens team and have liked what I have seen from them this year. For me, it always starts with the defense. I have been around long enough to see many a solid defense propel teams to Super Bowls.

The Ravens can play with the Colts. They have proved that already this year. But there are some things that will be working against them in this one which definitely have me concerned for my futures position, and also keep me from making a regular play on them in this spot.

 The biggest negative here for the Ravens is that this will be their 4th road game in a row. There's a reason NFL teams rarely play 3 straight road games during the regular season. It's a huge disadvantage. Now granted, most of the Ravens travel has been confined to the Northeast, but they did have a cross country trip to Los Angles a couple of weeks ago and even the short trips take their toll.

The Colts meanwhile, are rested. They have had the luxury of a bye week. Some may suggest that not having played a meaningful game since December 17th and having rested some players in the two final games will be a negative. Perhaps. A case can be made either way based on the past. In my opinion, any rust as a result of the layoff will show it's head in the 1st half. The 1st quarter even.

If the 4 straight road games combined with the rest for the Colts has no impact on the game, then a very strong case can be made for the Ravens on Saturday Night. Let's start with some simple, common sense facts. Taking a look at the regular season, we see that the Colts basically played a 14 game schedule. They didn't try to win their last two games, both losses. In that 14 game schedule where it counted most, they may have gone 14-0, but it wasn't exactly a dominant 14-0 with 35-14 type scores.

Of those 14 wins, 8 of those were by a touchdown or less. The teams they beat by more than a touchdown were Seattle, Tennessee, St Louis, Denver and Arizona. Of those teams, only the Cardinals are a playoff team. In fact the Colts have had only 4 games against playoff teams all year, 3 of which were meaningful. They beat the Cards early in the year 31-10 and then beat the Patriots in a come from behind win, 35-34, and these Ravens, 17-15, also a come from behind win.

The Ravens on the other hand, have just two losses this year by more than a touchdown. A 17-7 loss at Cinci and a 27-14 loss at Green Bay. They have played 8 games against playoff teams including the Chargers, Pats, Colts, Vikings, Bengals and Packers, not to mention their grueling rivalry with the Steelers. The negative here, is that they are 2-6 in those games against playoff teams. The Silver lining would be that they beat the Chargers and the Pats and other than the two losses we mentioned, the other losses were by less than a TD. They also held 11 opponents to 17 points or less.

As far as the numbers go, specifically the yards per point numbers, they are dead even. Season to date we see both teams with a 14 on offense and an 18 on defense. The last 7 meaningful games for each show Baltimore with a 13 and 18 and the Colts with a 13 and 17, the Ravens with a slight edge defensively. Also note that in those 7 games the Colts gave up almost 400 yards per game while the Ravens gave up 272.

So what does it all mean? Well, it means you have a playoff game between two very capable teams, that for all intents and purposes, should be decided by a touchdown or less. Both teams were in the dance a year ago. The Colts went packing early with an overtime loss to the Chargers on the road in the Wild Card game. You can bet that loss is still fresh in their minds. The Ravens have their own bad memories. They made it all the way to the AFC Title game only to lose to the Steelers. One game away from the Super Bowl.

The big question here is the impact of the Ravens playing their 4th straight road game against a rested Colts team. Sure, the Colts are 0-3 in playoff games in years they have earned a bye, but they weren't playing teams living out of a suitcase in those games. Also worth noting is that the Colts kept the Ravens out of the End Zone in their previous meeting.

No key release on this one. You can't play every game. Personally, my futures wager will be the only action I have on this one. So I'll be rooting hard for the Ravens to win straight up. I've provided information in this article that would seem to make the Ravens the high percentage play getting +6.5. If you bet that way, good luck. We'll be rooting for the same side.

But I have also stayed off plenty of plays in my career due to a hunch. I just have a hunch the Colts are going to show up in a big way Saturday Night setting up what I think will be an intriguing playoff rematch between the Chargers and Colts. If the hunch is correct and the Colts get the win, chances are, the cover isn't too far behind. So this one is a pass. Good Luck is you bet and Go Ravens!!!

 

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