Last week, the Ravens took care of business with a 24-10 win over the Browns. The empty stadium created an uninspiring game from the Browns, and helped the Ravens sustain momentum throughout the game. The rainy conditions were ideal for the Ravens gameplan, which consisted of a healthy amount of Ray Rice pounding the ball at the Browns defense, as Rice and fellow back Ricky Williams combined for close to 300 rushing yards. Rice set a career high in yards on the ground, finishing with 204. He also started the Ravens scoring in the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown score. After a Billy Cundiff field goal, the Ravens took a 10-0 lead into halftime. Then, following a Phil Dawson field goal for the Browns, Rice set up a Ricky Williams touchdown run with a 67-yard run of his own, and the Ravens extended their lead. To put the finishing touches on for the Ravens, CB Lardarius Webb returned a punt 68 yards to the house, and it was smooth sailing from there.
Player of the Game: Ravens RB Ray Rice- 29 attempts, 204 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Key to the Win: For weeks, we have complained that Ray Rice was not getting enough touches, and Joe Flacco was throwing too much. Finally, Rice got the carries he deserved, using his 29 for a career high in yardage. On the other side of the ball, Joe Flacco only had to throw 23 times. That's how this offense wins a game.
What Worried Me: This was a victory on most sides of the ball, but Billy Cundiff's performance caused some concern. Cundiff missed two first half field goals (34,41) that could have given the Ravens a more comfortable lead. While he does have an injury to his plant leg, those six points could be the difference in games down the strech.
Next week, the Ravens return home to host the winless Indianapolis Colts. This is not the Colts team we are used to, and it's simply incredible how much one person can affect a team's success. Peyton Manning's neck surgery has caused him to miss every game this season, and the Colts' alternatives are not getting the job done. Dan Orlovsky, who was part of the winless Lions team in 2008, will be getting his second start this week. Orlovsky has not won a game he's played in since 2004, when he was a senior at Connecticut. The Ravens defense will look to confuse Orlovsky with different blitz packages, and get him out of his zone early. Despite their record, the Colts have some offensive playmakers. Receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon both have big play potential. Garcon seems to be Orlovsky's favorite target, catching two touchdowns in Orlovsky's debut last week. In the running game, youngsters Donald Brown and Delone Carter lead the way, but neither have yet to make a big statement yet as a professional. The Colts have some weapons on defense as well. DE Dwight Freeney has destroyed the Ravens in the past, and is one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. He is joined on the defensive line by Robert Mathis, who is tied with Freeney for the team lead in sacks with 5.5. With the Colts lack of defensive talent, containing Freeney and Mathis will be vital to a successful offensive day. This should be as much of a mismatch on the field as it is on paper, and I have the Ravens winning, 30-10.
Key to the Game: The biggest threat to a Ravens win is the Colts pass rush, with the aforementioned Freeney and Mathis. If the Ravens offensive line can prevent them from getting to Joe Flacco, he will have time to find his receivers, and keep the Ravens moving down the field.
Key Matchups for Colts at Ravens
Ravens CB Cary Williams vs. Colts WR Reggie Wayne Edge: Wayne
Ravens LB Jameel McClain vs. Colts RB Donald Brown Edge: McClain
Ravens T Bryant McKinnie vs. Colts DE Dwight Freeney Edge: Freeney
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Colts S Antoine Bathea Edge: Flacco
CB Chris Carr-Back-OUT
LB Ray Lewis-Foot-QST
K Billy Cundiff-Left Calf-QST
QB Peyton Manning-Neck-OUT
LB Pat Angerer-Knee-QST
TE Dallas Clark-Fibula-QST
WR Anthony Gonzalez-Groin-QST
LB Ernie Sims-Toe-QST
AFC North Standings
Team W L
Steelers 10 3
Ravens 9 3
Bengals 7 5
Browns 4 9
AFC North Outlook: Since the Steelers beat the Browns on Thursday night, they technically have the division lead right now. The Ravens can overtake them with a win on Sunday. The Bengals host the Texans.
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!