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Colts at Ravens 

1/13/07

 

When it became clear that the Colts would be traveling to Baltimore this week to play the Ravens, before actually breaking the game down, our initial thoughts were that the Colts would be the play. Fresh off a 23-8 home playoff win over the Chiefs in a game where the Colts defense looked more like the Ravens than their own. But when you handicap football games, you have to be able to take a step back. You want to take into consideration a teams most recent results, but you also have to take a look at the big picture. Casual bettors and fans are heavily influenced by a teams last game. It's fresh in their minds. So often times, it can create some extra value on the other side of the game.

A case can be made for the Colts using the same argument we used last week against the Chiefs. They are a team that won 13 games this year and lost only 4. In those 4 losses, three of those were decided in the closing seconds, and just one, the Jags loss, was a game in which the Colts failed to show up. Every team is allowed to lay one egg. A play here and there and the Colts could be a one loss team.

Something else comes to mind about the Colts and their potential for the upset........Peyton Manning. For Peyton Manning to be considered "great", he's got to at least get to a Super Bowl. Winning a Super Bowl would seal the deal, but even losing one would at least put him on par with Dan Marino. We bring this up because this may be the last shot Manning has for some time. Of all the playoff teams, the Colts have the highest number of free agents. The hourglass is definitely running out of sand. So there's a little bit of now or never in this one for Manning. If they were able to beat the Ravens on the road, then in my opinion, there would be no stopping the Colts this year.

As much as we'd like to see the career of Peyton Manning validated with a Super Bowl appearance, we need to take a look at the numbers for this game, and folks, the numbers don't lie. They aren't very impressive for the Colts. In 20+ years of handicapping pro football, I have never seen a Super Bowl winner or loser with the numbers the Colts have. Any which way we break this one down comes up as a 10+ point win for the Ravens.

The Ravens numbers are Super Bowl numbers. It's as if the Ravens have the blue print for how to be a Super Bowl team and have followed it to the letter. No matter which part of the season you look at, the Ravens numbers hold up. For example, if you take into account the entire season, the Ravens are out scoring their opponents 22-13 overall and 24-12 at home. How about over the last 6 games overall? How does 22-9 sound? How about the last 4 home games? 24-8 would be about right for that stretch. Compare that to the Colts last 4 road games. During that stretch the Colts were outscored 28-18. Of course the Jaguar blow out has a lot to do with that margin, but regardless, they still lost their last 4 games on the road which doesn't look good on any teams resume, let alone a team trying to upset the number one defensive team in the NFL.

Let's also not lose site of exactly who the Colts beat last week. They beat the Chiefs, hardly a defensive power house yet Manning still threw 3 picks and only managed to put up 23 points on the board. This was a Chiefs team that was one win above .500 for the year and certainly not a threat to any "real" playoff team. How many picks is Manning good for this week going up against a Ravens team that led the entire NFL in turnover ratio at +17!

How about one of our favorite stats, yard per point? Here's the yards per point line on the game using different time spans -

Entire season - Ravens by 10

Last 6 games - Ravens by 16

Colts last 4 road games against Ravens last 4 at home - Ravens by 17

When you hear the name "Indianapolis Colts", you immediately think Peyton Manning, 13-4, 8-0 at home, power house offense and so on. But then when you take a closer look at the numbers from a handicappers perspective, you wonder if you're looking at the same teams stats. Cause the numbers don't add up.

OUR PICK (3*)  RAVENS -3.5

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