Today we welcome in Matt Sadler of the Baltimore Sports Report.com to talk about the matchup with the Ravens. We previously chatted with him back in November. Over on his site, I've responded to some of his questions as well.
1-How do Ravens fans feel about Flacco. On one hand he's 3-1 in playoff games, but on the other, he's been pretty horrible in all four games. Is there any confidence in him at all at this point?
Wins speak louder than stats. Aaron Rodgers played a hell of a game last week, but he is home and the Ravens are still alive. I am not saying Flacco is better than Rodgers. I am saying that Ravens are functioning at a level where the QB doesn't have to win the game for them. They need him to not lose the game for them. That being said, 4-10 for 34 yards can't be ignored. I want to believe that as soon as they jumped out to the lead, the game plan changed. As a result, Cam Cameron saw no reason to put Flacco at risk. Truthfully, his stats should have been slightly better. His receiver, Demetrius Williams, dropped a nice 50 yd pass.
How well Flacco plays next week has everything to do with how well the guys on the corner are going to protect him. He played extremely well a few weeks ago versus the Bears. He wasn't bad against the Steelers. He didn't have to anything versus the Raiders and Pats. I think if the Colts open up the defense, I think he will play respectably.
2- What's the injury situation with Flacco and Heap? Heap looked pretty banged up on that play in New England?
Flacco's injury is being downplayed. He will play. It will be a matter of comfort. The injury didn't seem to hurt his mobility. Heap was diagnosed to have suffered a back stinger. He practiced on Monday. It was said that he "looked good."
3-Ray Rice just had one of the best "under the radar" seasons in NFL history. 2000 yards from scrimmage is impressive. Who does he most remind you of, and is he unquestionably the best Raven right now?
I would say he reminds me of two players. His ability to catch balls and bail out the QB reminds me of Thurman Thomas. But when he bursts through the line and scampers up-field, he reminds me of Joe Morris circa 1987. Rice seems to do a better job of keeping his shoes on his feet.
Rice is quickly becoming the heart and soul of this team. The Ravens have made a point this season to make him more of a face for the organization. Is he the best player? It's hard to say. 2 weeks ago, McGahee rattled off a huge run off against the Raiders. When the Ravens are no longer stacked at the running back position, we will be able to see the true value that Rice brings.
4- What's the feeling about the match up from Ravens fans? You beat the Chargers on the road, but narrowly lost to Indy for the 7th straight time at home. Would the Ravens rather be playing the Chargers right now?
No way. The Chargers are a match up nightmare for the Ravens, but more importantly they were playing the best football going into the playoffs. They, like the Pats, seemed to be able to put up those big numbers that would knockout a team quickly. I don't see Indy putting up more than 24 points on the Ravens. The Ravens are capable of scoring that on offense. They are not at a point where they can get into a shootout with the Chargers again.
5- The Ravens have been inconsistent for the past 11 weeks or so, never winning more than two games in a row since the start of the season. They've lost a lot of close games down the stretch (including to the Colts). What is the source of that inconsistency. What does this team need to do to make the leap this week and post a three game win streak at just the right time?
The Ravens let little things beat them. Missed plays in the clutch, dumb penalties, missed kicks, overall mental lapses. For the most part, it is very binary. They either have it together or they are a train wreck. I know it is a lame answer, but really it is that simple. A focused , disciplined team will usually win. The Colts have to do everything possible to get them rattled early and the game is theirs fo the taking.
6- What if anything is different about the Ravens now from when the Colts last played them?
There is a new confidence in the secondary. They are less talented than when you last saw them but they understand their roles better.
7- Prediction for the game?
Colts 20- Ravens 17. Matt Stover breaks Ravens hearts with the game winning kick at the end of regulation.