The Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens are set to square off in NFL playoff betting action this week at M&T Bank Stadium. But before you make your NFL picks for the big game on Sunday, check out some of the great NFL betting trends that we have for the duel!
Indianapolis Colts Notes: It was a heck of a year for the Colts, who had the league’s biggest turnaround this year from a 2-14 team to one that won 11 games and got into the playoffs as the second best team in the AFC South. The team is one that is just chock full of rookies and second year players, none of which are more important than those of QB Andrew Luck, the new face of the franchise, replacing QB Peyton Manning. The team has had an entire hash tag around it this year, as the #ChuckStrong tag has taken over the Twitter-verse and social media. Head Coach Chuck Pagano ended up missing almost three quarters of the season thanks to his fight with leukemia, and Bruce Arians had to step into his place and get the job done. Pagano is back, and his team beat the Houston Texans in Week 17 in a game that knocked the AFC South champs off of the pedestal as the top team in the AFC. Indy won and covered eight of its last 10 games, but the losses in that stretch have to be bothersome, as they came to the Texans and the New England Patriots, two of the top contenders in the AFC. In fact, the only truly notable win that this team had all year long came in Week 17.
Luck put together one of the best years that a rookie quarterback has ever had, and it is clear that this is just the start of a career that could belong to a Hall of Famer that is in the league for 15-20 years as a dominating player. He threw for 4,374 yards and 23 TDs this year, and he had some great contributions from men like RB Vick Ballard, WR TY Hilton, TE Dwayne Allen, and TE Coby Fleener, all of which are rookies. WR Reggie Wayne is the vet of the bunch, and he is certainly going to have to have a big game in this one.
The injury report is rather lengthy for the Colts, but a lot of the news is of the good variety. LB Pat Angerer figure to be able to give it a go even though he is on the injury report with an undisclosed illness, while the news is at least somewhat hopeful about RB Delone Carter, who has an ankle injury that has hampered his entire season. If Carter could play, it would really help a backfield that hasn’t gotten a ton of good work this year, though Ballard has played well as a sub.
Baltimore Ravens Notes: It’s just another year in the playoffs for the Ravens, as they won the AFC North. They had some room to spare at the end of the season, but most of that room was blown by the end of the year. Had the team won in Week 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals, it would have made matters look better, but in the end, no one is going to ask how many games Baltimore won the division by. They were basically locked into the No. 4 seed in the playoffs before Week 17, but that loss does make the end of the season look very shady. If not for the Texans, this would be the team that is in the biggest rut going into the playoffs in the AFC. Baltimore has lost four of its last five games from an SU and an ATS standpoint, and in that mix, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron was dismissed and Jim Caldwell took over as the OC and the team’s play caller for the first time in franchise history.
But of course, the story in this one broke midweek when LB Ray Lewis announced that he would be retiring at the end of the postseason. That’s a tough break for a Baltimore franchise that has had Lewis as its icon for over a decade and a half. However, Lewis hasn’t played since Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys thanks to a torn triceps muscle, and most recognize that he isn’t the same linebacker that he used to be a few years ago. The Ravens ranked 20th or worse in a number of defensive categories this year, and that is just tremendously uncharacteristic of a Baltimore team under Head Coach John Harbaugh. Even RB Ray Rice really didn’t have the same type of year that most figured, as he didn’t come anywhere near 2,000 total yards of offense. QB Joe Flacco is the man that is under the most pressure here, as he has really never been able to win the proverbial “big one” in his career in spite of the fact that he does have a lot of wins under his belt in the second season.
Of course, the Ravens have struggled with injuries all year long, but they seem to be coming into this one in as good of shape as they could be asking for. If Lewis announced that he is retiring, we have to think that he is going to play in the last home game of his career, so we aren’t worried about his questionable status. Four key starters that were benched in last week’s relatively meaningless game are expected to give it a go in this one, as G Marshall Yanda, DE Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata, and WR Anquan Boldin, the team’s leading receiver, are all listed as probable. S Bernard Pollard has missed three straight games, while LB Anthony McClellan has missed the last two. Both men are listed as questionable for this one, though again, with this being such a big game and the last of the season nearly for sure at M&T Bank Stadium, we have to think that both will give it a go if they can.
Head To Head: The Colts have really had the number of the Ravens in recent memory, though a lot of that obviously came with QB Peyton Manning calling the shots and none have come with Luck in the saddle quite yet. There have been two playoff games between the old Baltimore team and the new Baltimore team, and both games, including one here in Baltimore, have gone to the Colts. Indianapolis though, has dominated even more than that, going 7-1 SU and 8-0 ATS in the last eight meetings, including winning four of the last five and covering all five at M&T Bank Stadium. However, the oddsmakers think that all of that is going to change on Sunday, with Baltimore’s vets favored over Indy’s rookies by 6.5.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.