*The Ravens are set to take on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. BR.com offers a breakdown of Baltimore's Week 6 opponent. *
Total Offense - 16 (313.3) Total Defense - 25 (353.0)
Rush Offense - 32 (67.8) Rush Defense - 32 (188.5)
Pass Offense - 7 (245.5) Pass Defense -4 (164.5)
Points Per Game - T18 (20.7) Points Per Game - 18 (23.5)
Sizing Them Up
Just because the Colts are 2-2 (much like the Ravens), don't sleep on them. As long as Tony Dungy is at the helm and Peyton Manning is under center, things can always heat up in Indianapolis.
Manning is the engine that drives a prolific unit that has finished in the top four in scoring offense eight of the past nine years. The aerial attack features two of the best receivers in the league. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne both own multiple Pro Bowls and regularly top 1,000 yards receiving the football.
Wayne is actually leading the team with 25 grabs for 350 yards and three touchdowns this season, while Harrison's 17 catches are tied with third wideout Anthony Gonzalez.
Tight end Dallas Clark has matured into one of the best at his position. He set career highs last season with 58 receptions for 616 yards and an eye-opening 11 scores.
Behind a battered defensive line that has seen Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, talented second-year left tackle Tony Ugoh and tough right guard Dan Federkeil all miss games due to injuries this year, the Colts have mustered the league's worst run game.
Joseph Addai has toted the ball 60 times for only 213 yards, but he does own four touchdowns.
Defensively, Indy has issues stopping the run, as it also ranks last. The unit is allowing 188.5 yards per game. With a defensive line that does not regularly play a player over 275 pounds, opposing offensive lines have been successful in clearing out the appropriate holes.
Indy's strength lay in a pair of tenacious pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The duo has five sacks and four forced fumbles between them.
Hard-hitting safety Bob Sanders is the pivotal piece on the back end, but he has been nursing a knee injury that kept him out of practice all week. Sanders is listed as probable on the Colts' Friday injury report.
The Colts have not yet won in their brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium, which means that they're going to be hungry in front of their home crowd.
Interested in backup quarterback Jim Sorgi's high school sports exploits? Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis* Star *is.
"It was clear at an early age that Sorgi was pretty good at a lot of things. At Fraser, just north of Detroit, he was an all-state quarterback who also had 16 career interceptions as a defensive back. He hit .450 in baseball and nearly averaged a double-double while earning all-state honors in basketball, too."
The Star's Bob Kravitz writes about the rivalry between Manning and Ray Lewis.
"Not that Peyton Manning or Ray Lewis can recite the Magna Carta or compare the works of John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx, but when it comes to football, there are no two greater savant/athletes in the game."
Chappell writes about the Colts' needing to rebound to save their season.
"Can Sunday's great escape from Houston -- the Colts' third last-minute decision in three games -- spark them out of their lethargy? Can they build on it to at last regain the consistency that has defined this team in years past?"
John Oesher of Colts.com writes about backup corner Tim Jennings' desire to start.
"Jennings, a third-year cornerback for the Colts, said no way did he want to move into the starting lineup under these circumstances – because of injury to starter Kelvin Hayden – but he said whatever the reason he is starting he does know this much: He never has been more ready for the opportunity."*
Offensive - Manning. He drives this train with an intimate knowledge of the offense and a cerebral approach to dissecting defenses. Manning got off to a slow start this year because he has an infected bursa sack removed from his left knee in the preseason, but it's evident he's finding his groove. He compiled a 101.0 passer rating last week in an epic come-from-behind win against the Houston Texans.
Defensive - Freeney, a three-time Pro Bowler, is the franchise career-leader in sacks with 63.0 and even has 33 forced fumbles. The Syracuse product is someone that offenses need to account for on every play, as one false step by a left tackle could see him unleash his signature spin move and get a bee-line to the quarterback.
Manning has been going to Gonzalez a lot more as the second-year wideout from Ohio State matures within the Colts' system. He posted 37 catches a year ago, but is currently tied with Harrison for second on the team with 17 for 225 yards.
A crafty slot receiver, Gonzalez can sometimes get lost in the fray when teams key on Harrison, Wayne and Clark, but he can also break the big play.
Ravens CBs Frank Walker and Chris McAlister vs. Colts WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne
Expect the Colts to continue their trend of a pass-heavy game, because it's near-impossible to run on the Ravens' defense. But, with Samari Rolle (neck/shoulder) and Fabian Washington (shoulder) ruled out, that leaves Walker as the next man up. McAlister has turned in a shining year thus far, but Walker hasn't seen much action yet. Walker performed well last week against the Tennessee Titans, knocking down a career-high four passes.
Ravens RB Willis McGahee and FB Le'Ron McClain vs. Colts D-Line
Baltimore boasts the NFL's fourth-best rushing offense on the legs of McGahee and McClain, along with punishing blocking from the offensive line. The unit has been solid in opening up holes for the two runners. Now that it faces a defensive front that allows a league-worst 188.5 yards per game on the ground, the line will look to do that again. Besides, the Ravens need to keep the ball out of Manning's hands, and the best way to do that is to eat up rushing yards.
Dungy on game-planning his offense for the Ravens' defense:
"What they do – and they're no different than they've been probably for the last 10 years – they try to bring pressure and keep you off balance so you can't zero in on any of those guys in the secondary. They expect the ball to be thrown fast, they crowd you, and they make you go after big plays. They're not going to let you complete balls in front of them, and they expect their pressure to hinder you from getting balls deep. It's a tough job. You've got a lot of things that you've got to pick up, a lot of different blitzes that you've got to handle. Your receivers have to speed their tempo up a little bit to make sure they're getting open quick enough, and it will be a challenge."
Manning on whether he expects the Ravens' defense to be more motivated after last year's 44-20 loss:
"In the fifth game of the season if you're not motivated to play, then I think something's wrong with you. I don't think this Ravens team needs anything that's happened in the past to motivate them. They've always played extremely hard; we've always had close games. Last year it was one of those games where things fell right for us. They had a bunch of turnovers on offense, we had very good field position, they had a number of injuries in the secondary, and that game was an exception in my opinion. The games [we've played] – the playoff game and the other games we've had against them there in Baltimore – are more of the type of games we have, and that's the kind of game you expect this Sunday."
The matchups are obvious in this one. Baltimore likes do run the football to keep possession, both to set rookie quarterback Joe Flacco up for success and to keep Manning on the sideline.
The Colts haven't stopped the run this year.
Indy likes to pass the football because Manning is such a technician that he can shred a defense at any time.
The Ravens are without two of their top three cornerbacks and starting safety Dawan Landry.
Basically, it comes down to the battles up front. The Ravens must get pressure on Manning with their front four so linebackers can drop and help in coverage. Manning gets the ball out very quickly, so the sacks might not show up on the stat sheet, but a throw out of bounds is good enough this Sunday.
Also, McGahee and McClain need to pound it up the middle to wear on a thin defensive front. If those factors can be established, then it's going to be the grind-it-out game the Ravens wanted all along.
Ed. note: These aren't necessarily the beliefs of the Ravens organization.