Ravens vs Colts Game Preview
A historic matchup pits the new Baltimore team, the Ravens versus their old team, the Indianapolis Colts, formerly the Baltimore Colts. Between the relocation and the duels with all-time great quarterback Peyton Manning and the indomitable Ravens defence, there are plenty of backstories here.
But right now the story is between two franchises looking to return to the postseason after struggling for the past few years.
The Ravens are a team of fire and ice: they have a red-hot defence that is among the best in the NFL but an ice-cold offence that seems to get worse each year. Yet Baltimore still won nine games in 2017 and was one win away from returning to the playoffs.
This current form of Flacco is a far cry from the guy they paid $125-million to. At least the Ravens have Lamar Jackson to lean on but the sooner they can rebuild the offence, the better.
All things considering, the Colts didn’t do so bad in 2017. They won four games despite having no quarterback, no running back and having a pedestrian front-seven. But things are looking much better for 2017.
Quarterback Andrew Luck looks healthy and ready to go. The offensive line is finally improved and upgrades to the defence mean this Colts team might be its best since their last playoff run in 2014. But it all depends on Luck and the new offence.
Indianapolis will still be adjusting to the new coaches and it’s unclear if Luck will even play in the preseason. Regardless, they will take it easy and Baltimore’s deeper defence should grind out an ugly victory for the road team.
Ravens vs Colts Head-to-Head Records
These two franchises have met 15 times with the Colts leading the series 10-5. The new Baltimore team debuted in 1996 and played the Colts right away losing to them 21-26 in a hard-fought game. Jim Harbaugh and Marshall Faulk led the Colts to a win despite the Vinny Testaverde’s three touchdowns for Baltimore.
Manning would become Baltimore’s nemesis. Though they would beat him the first two games, Manning and the Colts would go on an 8-0 run starting from 2002 all the way to 2010. Two of these victories came in the playoffs: in 2007 and 2010.
The Ravens snapped the losing skid in 2011 when Manning was injured. They would go on to win two of the last three games including their first playoff victory over the franchise when they shut them down 24-9 in 2013.
There is plenty of history between these two teams and they seem to always be on the same level. The Colts are in transition and looking to get back in the playoffs and so are the Ravens.
Baltimore Ravens Recent History
In their 21-year existence, the Ravens have made the playoffs half the time though are most remembered for their two Super Bowl runs. They became the first franchise to win the Super Bowl in their first playoff appearance doing so in 2000 behind one of the all-time great defences.
A dozen years later, they would repeat as champions again on the strength of their defence. From 2008 to 2012, the Ravens were a perennial AFC powerhouse. They consistently made the playoffs and won at least one game each time only losing to the team that would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Those days are long over as the Ravens have struggled due to a lack of an offence. They remain dangerous because of their defence but the team needs an overhaul if they are to contend again.
Indianapolis Colts Recent History
Starting out in Baltimore, the Colts were one of the NFL’s early powers. They won a handful of NFL championships before winning their first Super Bowl in 1970. They moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and only made one playoff appearance in their first ten seasons. It all changed in 1994.
The Colts would draft Manning along with many other stars. This would usher a golden age for the franchise where they would make 11 playoff appearances in 12 seasons including winning one Super Bowl in two trips. Manning would depart and the Colts wouldn’t skip a beat drafting Luck as they made a quick return to the playoffs.
Luck would lead the Colts to three consecutive 11-5 seasons and as far as the Conference Championship before he and the team would succumb to injuries and lack of depth. Now in Luck’s seventh season, the Colts are looking to recapture their division-winning form.
Baltimore Ravens Outlook
Flacco has quickly gone from Super Bowl hero to dead weight. He is arguably the worst starting quarterback given the size of his contract. This is why Baltimore drafted Jackson. Though raw, the former Heisman Trophy winner is the dynamic quarterback they’ve always needed.
Jackson may not even be close to being capable of starting but if Baltimore continues to lose, they might be forced to turn to him. The offence is in dire straits. They reshuffled their receivers and took two tight ends in the draft. But their offensive line remains patchy and they have no good running backs.
Thankfully, the defence remains elite. The Ravens’ back-seven remains a quarterback’s nightmare. Terrell Suggs (LB) is still going strong at 35 and the secondary is lights out with Eric Weddle (S) and Jimmy Smith (CB). But if the team wants to improve dramatically, they need to address the elephant in the room.
Indianapolis Colts Outlook
Luck should be fine. If he isn’t, that is terrible news for the Colts. The franchise knows how difficult it can be without a franchise quarterback. They are a whopping 6-26 the last two seasons they played without one. Indianapolis focused on the offence during the draft ensuring they welcome Luck back the right way.
They drafted a blue-chip guard in Quenton Nelson who will solidify the ever-improving line. They added Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, two running backs with pass-catching abilities that could prove invaluable. And they added a sleeper wide receiver in Daurice Fountain who will ease pressure off of TY Hilton.
Because Indianapolis focused so much on their offence, they barely upgraded the defence. They took Darius Leonard at linebacker and added some edge rushers but their stop unit still ranks in the bottom third of the league. Indianapolis will once again depend on Luck and the offence to carry them to the playoffs.
Whenever the Colts and Ravens clash, it usually ends up being a low-scoring game. The Colts have the better offence especially if Luck plays but that’s not saying much as Baltimore’s offence is ghastly. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ defence should nullify most of the Colts’ passing attack.
Luck will likely get a few reps but expect Jacoby Brissett to carry most of the load. He’s a decent quarterback but if he goes against the Ravens’ main defence, he’ll be eaten for dinner. The Colts’ defence is porous so as bad the Ravens’ offence is, they should have a better chance to score.
But this is all considering the starters. When it comes to the backups, Baltimore has more depth on defence but not much else. They should win this game as the Colts are still learning Frank Reich’s new offence and Luck will be taking it easy. Two things are given: the scoring will be low and the game will be ugly.