Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
TV: NFL Network | CBS/WJZ-TV (Ch. 13)
TV Crew: Greg Gumbel (PBP), Trent Green (analyst), Jamie Erdahl (sideline)
Radio: 98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM | Westwood One
Local Radio Crew: Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Stan White (analyst), Jarret Johnson (analyst)
National Radio Crew: Scott Graham (play-by-play), Mike Mayock (analyst)
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Jersey Color: Purple
Referee Crew: Tony Corrente
Baltimore is guaranteed a playoff spot if it wins its final two games. If the Ravens drop one, they suddenly need help. The Ravens don't want to take those chances, which means they need to take care of business against a Colts team that has lost eight of its last nine games and sits at 3-11 overall.
Of course, there's the history of Robert Irsay moving the Baltimore Colts out of town and relocating them to Indianapolis. That still stings a lot of older Ravens fans. In terms of Ravens-Colts game history, the Colts lead the regular-season series, 8-3, and have won seven of the past eight meetings. The Ravens' three wins, however, have all come at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens beat Indy in Baltimore in 2011 and did so again in the 2012 wild-card playoffs in Ray Lewis' final home game.
Ravens Offensive Turnaround
No AFC team has averaged more points per game in the second half of the season than the Ravens. Baltimore wants to keep that momentum going against the Colts, who have the 30th-ranked defense in the league. Indianapolis is 29th against the run (124.4 yards per game) and 30th versus the pass (257.1), meaning the Ravens offense could be in for another strong day.
Baltimore's Wide Receiver Situation
Jeremy Maclin is doubtful to play after suffering a knee injury last week. If he can't suit up, the Ravens will likely turn to Chris Moore as the starter opposite Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman and Michael Campanaro could also get increased opportunities. Moore has flashed over the past several weeks and Head Coach John Harbaugh said it's time for him to break out.
The Colts have allowed the most sacks in the NFL (53). Part of it is because quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has filled in for Andrew Luck (shoulder) all season, has held onto the ball in an effort not to make mistakes. It's worked, as he's thrown just seven interceptions, but he's also been hit a lot. Facing a Ravens defense that leads the league in takeaways, Brissett will probably be even more cautious in Baltimore. The Ravens' front seven needs to turn up the heat.
Matchups to Watch
S Tony Jefferson vs. TE Jack Doyle
Doyle has the second-most receptions (71) among NFL tight ends this season. He hasn't made many big plays (611 yards and three touchdowns), but he's been a reliable chain mover for Brissett. The Ravens made some mistakes with their drops and coverage of the Steelers' tight ends two weeks ago, and they need to be on point versus Doyle. Jefferson could get that assignment.* *
CB Marlon Humphrey vs. WR T.Y. HiltonHilton is a game-changing wide receiver who ranks third in the NFL in yards per catch (17.8). The 5-foot-9 speedster is in the mold of Steelers wideout Antonio Brown, with great quickness and toughness after he catches the ball. He is the Colts' best chance of pulling off an upset. Humphrey has been excellent all season long, and has the speed to run with Hilton. The first-round rookie will get another strong test.* *
OLB Terrell Suggs vs. LT Anthony Castonzo
Castonzo has had a good season and ranks as the fourth-best left tackle in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). However, his strength is in run blocking and not so much pass blocking. Castonzo has given up six sacks this season, per PFF. Suggs is three sacks short of tying his single-season high. He had 14 in 2011 as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Topping that would be quite an accomplishment for the 35-year-old Suggs.