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Game Preview: Ravens Wary Of Winless Colts

Baltimore doesn’t want to give Indianapolis its first win like it gave Miami in 2007.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, December 10th, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Ryan Mink, Week 14 vs Colts

The Ravens have lost to a winless team in December before.

It happened in 2007, when they traveled to Miami to face the then 0-13 Dolphins, who were on the brink of becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history.

Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs remembers that day vividly, the circumstances going into it and even the play that sealed it (a slant in overtime).

So when Suggs was asked if he had any fear about playing an Indianapolis Colts team that will enter M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday with an 0-12 record, he said “definitely.”

“I am going to be totally honest with you – yeah, because I lost to an O-fer team,” Suggs said. “They are just as big a threat to us [as] if we were playing anybody else.

“You don’t want to be the team that drops one [to them].”

The Ravens are a vastly different team from the one that fell in Miami in 2007, however. Baltimore was 4-9 and on a seven-game losing streak that year. As Suggs said, “there was a lot more going on than what was actually going on in the game.” It was Brian Billick’s final year as head coach.

Now the Ravens (9-3) are in search of their fourth straight playoff trip and have their sights set even higher – on being the AFC’s top seed. They are in the driver’s seat.

The Colts, who have beaten the Ravens in eight straight games dating back to 2002, are also a very different team than in years past. Injury-riddled Indianapolis is trying to stave off a winless season without quarterback Peyton Manning and a couple top defensive starters in linebacker Gary Brackett and safety Melvin Bullitt.

But while the Colts have struggled, Ravens defensive end Cory Redding knows from experience how bad a winless team can be itching to knock somebody off.

He was part of the Detroit Lions team in 2008 that became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16.

“You can only kick a dog so long,” Redding said. “You back an animal up in the corner, and after a while it’s going to get tired of it. It’s going to do everything it can to get out of that corner.”

3 Matchups To Watch

Ravens OTs vs. Colts DEs
Left tackle Bryant McKinnie and right tackle Michael Oher will have their hands full with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, whom Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron called “maybe the best pass-rush combination in the history of the game.” Each has 5.5 sacks this year. McKinnie and Oher have to keep Freeney and Mathis from stripping quarterback Joe Flacco, who has an NFL-high 11 fumbles.

Ravens CBs vs. Colts WRs
The Colts’ top weapons on offense reside on the outside in wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon. Garcon erupted with 150 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions last week. Wayne, one of the most productive wideouts in the league, had five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown two week ago. Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith will be tested.

S Ed Reed vs. QB Dan Orlovsky
Orolovsky shocked the football world by completing 30 of 37 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns last week. But he also had one interception. Reed will look to get a few more against a quarterback who has played in just five games since 2008. Reed typically engaged Manning in a battle of wits in their matchups. He would seemingly have the upper hand against Orlovsky.

3 Questions To Answer

Will Ray Rice do it again?
Rice had a career day versus the then 29th-ranked Browns rush defense last week, busting out for 204 rushing yards and a score. This week he’ll go against the league’s 30th-ranked rush defense, so it appears he’ll be toting the rock a lot once again. Rice has yet to top 100 rushing yards against the Colts in three career meetings, but Indianapolis’ defense is banged up.

Can the offense score a touchdown?
Baltimore’s looking to snap its eight-game losing streak, but even simpler than that, they’re looking to get in the end zone. The Ravens haven’t scored a touchdown in their last three meetings with the Colts. They’ve kicked seven field goals. Baltimore has the speed to challenge the Colts’ deep zone now, however, with wide receivers Torrey Smith and Lee Evans.

Will we see Tyrod Taylor?
Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor got one snap in a Wildcat-like formation last week. Harbaugh said “we may see more and more of that as we go forward.” The Ravens would also like to get a big lead on a team, something they haven’t done since Week 3 against St. Louis. That would perhaps give them a chance to see more of Taylor in mop-up duty.

Team Rankings

Ravens
Total Offense – 345.0 (15th)
Rush Offense – 114.8 (T-14th)
Pass Offense – 230.2 (14th)
Points Per Game – 24.7 (6th)

Total Defense – 287.3 (3rd)
Rush Defense – 88.8 (2nd)
Pass Defense – 198.6 (5th)
Points Per Game – 16.0 (3rd)

Colts
Total Offense – 293.1 (29th)
Rush Offense – 99.0 (26th)
Pass Offense – 194.1 (T-26th)
Points Per Game – 14.5 (29th)

Total Defense – 387.1 (28th)
Rush Defense – 144.2 (30th)
Pass Defense – 242.9 (22nd)
Points Per Game – 29.8 (32nd)

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