INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5)
at BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-6)
AFC Wild Card Playoff Game
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Baltimore -6.5, Total: 46
Indianapolis tries to extend its amazing season when it visits AFC North champion Baltimore on Sunday afternoon in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
The Colts finished out the year winning nine of 11 (SU and ATS), including last week’s impressive home win that knocked the Texans out of the AFC’s top spot. They were not particularly strong on the road this year though, where they went 4-4 (SU and ATS), but 0-3 against teams that finished 2012 with a winning record. Baltimore was 6-2 SU, but only 3-5 ATS at home this year. They had offensive issues all season and this will be just the fourth game as offensive coordinator for Jim Caldwell. After a strong showing against the Giants, they opted against using their starters in the regular season finale, a 23-17 loss to the Bengals.
Can the Colts pull off the upset in Baltimore on Sunday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.
Colts QB Andrew Luck has put together a terrific rookie season with 4,374 passing yards (7.0 YPA) and 23 TD, but also 18 INT. He's thrown 13 of these picks on the road where he carries a subpar 70.1 rating. The Ravens have an average passing defense with all the injuries in their secondary, as they allow 228 passing YPG (17th in NFL). Their biggest concern on Sunday will be Colts top WR Reggie Wayne, who has caught 106 passes for 1,355 yards and 5 TD this season. Rookie WR T.Y. Hilton has also come on strong with four 100-yard games in his past nine contests, including 111 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale win over Houston. Baltimore's run defense isn't special (123 YPG allowed, 20th in NFL), but it has held its past two opponents to 114 yards combined on 35 carries (3.3 YPC). RB Vick Ballard has been the team's main ball carrier in the past four weeks with 84 rushing attempts (21.0 per game), resulting in 346 yards (4.1 YPC). Although the Colts have been turnover-prone this season with 27 giveaways and a minus-12 TO ratio, they have played turnover-free football in the past two games, posting a +5 TO ratio.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco has won at least one playoff game in each of his four NFL seasons, but he hasn't always been great in these postseason contests, throwing for 1,532 yards (170 YPG, 6.2 YPA), 8 TD and 8 INT, equaling a subpar 70.4 passer rating. One of his worst playoff games came against Indy after the 2009 season when he completed just 20-of-35 throws for 189 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT (48.4 passer rating). But like Luck, Flacco has been much more productive at home (99.0 rating, 8.3 YPA, 15 TD, 5 INT) than on the road (74.9 rating, 5.9 YPA, 7 TD, 5 INT). More good news is that top WR Anquan Boldin (921 rec. yds) is set to return from a shoulder injury and No. 2 wideout Torrey Smith (855 rec. yds) is also healthy. This duo should be able to get open against Indy's 21st-ranked passing defense (237 YPG). RB Ray Rice is still the focal point of this offense, but he hasn't done much in the past two postseasons with just 216 yards on 71 carries (3.0 YPC) and 1 TD in these four games. However, in his last full game with Jim Caldwell calling the shots, Rice gained 158 total yards in a 33-14 thumping of the Giants. He should also be able to find holes to run through against a Colts defense giving up the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL this season (138 YPG). The Ravens have committed just 16 turnovers, which ties them for the second-fewest in the NFL.