@ M&T Bank Stadium @ 1:00 ET
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off their first shutout since 2006 as they defeated the Browns 16-0 on Monday Night Football. The Ravens did nothing spectacular and won the game their old-fashioned way - defense. Dawan Landry had an interception for a touchdown and the defense, as a whole, kept Brady Quinn and the Browns offense out of the game.
The Colts are coming off a Sunday Night game against the Patriots which is, in my mind, the best game of the season so far. The Colts remained undefeated as they defeated the Pats despite being dominated the entire game. Peyton Manning was able to have a great night passing on the Patriots defense but the Patriots were able to do the same on a Bob Sander-less Colts' defense.
Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth vs. Hank Baskett and Reggie Wayne
On the Ravens' side, they have the 13th ranked pass defense in the NFL. The number 13 rank is very inflated because of a 99 yard passing game by the Browns last week. They are way worse than 13th and their play shows it. Both corners are prone to long pass interference penalties and just blown coverages.
On the Colts' side, they have the best passer in the NFL in Peyton Manning and the #2 receiver in the NFL. But, good news for the Ravens is that behind Wayne, the Colts are lacking. Anthony Gonzalez has been injured for a long time now, Pierre Garcon is questionable for Sunday, and Hank Baskett is only listed as probable. If Garcon and Baskett are unable to play, that leaves Manning with only two wide receivers on the roster (Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne). That is a big "if" because Baskett will most likely play and so will Garcon. But one can hope.
I cannot tell you how huge that would be for Baltimore. That would put Manning at a disadvantage by narrowing his options down to Wayne and Clark. Also, the Ravens would be able to favor their safety and top weapon, Ed Reed, over to where Wayne's route is being ran.
The Colts may even be forced to run the ball more with Joseph Addai and completely taking Peyton Manning out of the game. The good news is Addai is only rushing 3.5 yards an attempt on the year.
But, he is Peyton Manning, so don't doubt him. He can work some intense magic.
Dwight Freeney vs. Michael Oher
Believe it or not, this rivalry dates back to when Oher was still playing the line at Ole Miss.
"When [Michael] Lewis was writing 'The Blind Side,' which chronicles Oher's rise from poverty to the NFL, he closed with a story about an encounter with Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Lewis told Freeney about Oher, then a 6-foot-4, 325-pound former Ole Miss offensive tackle who was waiting to hear his name called in the 2009 NFL Draft. Oher publicly claimed that he was ready to take on Freeney, one of the NFL's elite pass rushers and perhaps the best in the game.
Freeney patiently listened to what Lewis had to say, thought about it, and made one simple statement.
'You tell Michael Oher I'll be waiting for him,' Freeney said."
You can read the rest here - http://www.baltimoreravens.com/News/Articles/2009/11/Freeney_Tell_Oher_Ill_Be_Waiting.aspx
Freeney wants a piece of Michael Oher, who was recently mentioned as an All Pro by SI's Peter King, and Oher wants a piece of Freeney.
One issue here, Dwight Freeney is officially listed as questionable for the game tomorrow with a hip injury despite practicing fully on Friday.
If Freeney plays on Sunday, which I think he will, Oher will have his biggest test of the season and will be forced to earn his All Pro status.
Brady was able to pass all day on the Colts defense for one big reason - he had enough time. If Oher shuts down Freeney, the Ravens are one step closer to a win.
Players to Watch:
Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts - Quarterback
The best quarterback in the league gets his chance at airing it out on the horrid Ravens' secondary. As mentioned before, Manning has an ailing squad of receivers with Gonzalez, Garcon, and Baskett all either out, questionable, or probable for the game Sunday.
But, like I also said before, he is Peyton Manning and can be amazing with just two receivers and a tight end.
Manning is 3rd in the NFL with a 104.2 QB rating. He is 1st in yards with 2,872 with 879 of those yards going to Reggie Wayne. He is also first in completion percentage with a 69.7 percentage. To go along with all that, he is in the lead for touchdowns with 20. Yes, that is more than Drew Brees who has 19.
Joe Flacco - Baltimore Ravens - Quarterback
With Bob Sanders out, it is open season for Joe Flacco. On Sunday night, Tom Brady threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns on 29 of 42 passes. It was statistically his best game of the season besides the Tennessee massacre.
Now, Flacco is no Brady, but he still has the same window of opportunity.
After last week, the Colts are 16th in pass defense. That is behind the Ravens. They are allowing teams to complete 63.3 percent of their passes which is good for 26th in the NFL.
Forget about the lack of Bob Sanders for the Colts, they are also starting two rookie cornerbacks.
Flacco is coming off a great game against the Browns, too. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 155 yards. He failed to score a touchdown through the air but his rating stood at 98.1
Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens - Running Back
He does it all for the Ravens and has been doing it all year. Coming into the game, he has a streak of five straight games with a touchdown and six straight games with 100 yards from scrimmage.
All season, he was and should be a player to watch on this Ravens offense. His play keeps them in games.
This week against the Colts, Ray Rice needs to come up huge, mainly on the ground, as he acts as a changeup. The Ravens want to attack the Colts' secondary but they also want to be able balance it out with a strong running game.
Joseph Addai - Indianapolis Colts - Running Back
Addai has not been a player to watch at all for the Colts as he has only rushed for 3.5 yards per carry, but his presence could be big for this game.
Haloti Ngata appears to not be playing again and his presence is sorely missed on the defensive front. That leaves a huge hole for Addai to run through.
Addai came up pretty big for the Colts last game as he had a receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown.
Dallas Clark - Indianapolis Colts - Tight End
With the receivers of Manning ailing, he will have to go back to ole' faithful - Dallas Clark.
Clark is 5th in the NFL in receiving yards.
Against the Pats last week, he had 65 yards on 4 catches.
Billy Cundiff - Baltimore Ravens - Kicker
After the long awaited canning of Steven Hauschka, in comes Billy Cundiff.
Cundiff is a 30 year old kicker who has bounced around from team to team. He is a 74.2% field goal kicker and is 6/6 on the season.
Cundiff is no Stover, but we can hope he is better than Hauschka who is now a 66.7% free agent kicker.
The Colts come into this game all banged up and they find themselves only a -1.
But, with all the injuries, I still like the Colts in this game. Peyton Manning is just too good for the Ravens' defense whom has not been playing great all season. Dallas Clark will be a favor option for Manning as the defense tries to shut down the receivers.
The Ravens will be able to answer on offense as Ray Rice and Joe Flacco have big games again, but that won't be enough.
Ravens lose 24-21.