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Sunday, January 6, 2013

TWD Sunday Sports Thread #1 For 1/6/13: Ray of Light (Final Versions)

Final: Ravens 24, Colts 9


De facto day #52 day ends with him having the most tackles, and them hitting Luck all over the place today. To Mile High they go, but it's all about Mr. Lewis for sure. 



The Key Play

Torrey Smith was virtually invisible in the first half in the passing game, with great coverage from the always underrated Vontae Davis playing a major part in that. However, Smith shows how pass catching isn't the only way a wide receiver should contribute to his team in a key fashion, especially when you have a top tier running back. 

And that was the case with Smith's key blocking extending Ray Rice's massive screen gain. 

Needed Adjustments

Clyde Christensen has done well in Bruce Arians absence calling plays, doing a good job of trying to establish the run with Vick Ballard mostly to take pressure off of Luck. Nevertheless, the Colts offense hasn't done the best job at really using Luck's ability to run well this season as D.C. has done with Griffin and Seattle with Wilson. 

With the pressure this Ravens defense will continue to give him, dropping back and throwing it 40 times is a major ask on him here again, and he must be dynamic with his mobility too. Christensen has to find a way to utilize that in the second half to make Dean Pees, Ray Lewis and company not be hell bent on getting up the field with no other thoughts. 

For Baltimore, everything else is sound on defense outside of making sure not to overplay on the bubble screens and other delayed sets that the Colts' rookie skill player and Reggie Wayne can certainly exploit. Flacco has been just mediocre in that first half, and he needs to have a presence to find his receivers and Ed Dickson more. 

Pregame Preview Version 

Screenshot from NFL.com

The emotion of Ray Lewis possibly playing his final game, Andrew Luck's first playoff game, and Chuck Pagano's return to Baltimore are the standout factors in the 2nd AFC Wild Card game for the 2012-13 season.

Key to the Game: 

Luck must show a duel threat ability and make game changing momentum plays with his legs to sustain drives. Despite his level of natural accuracy, Luck still is nowhere near the likes of Rodgers, Brady, or Manning with pin point passing.

Against the blitzes he will face today from Dean Pees, Luck must be elusive like his fellow esteemed rookie quarterback counterparts Griffin and Luck in order to win on his playoff debut.

The sudden absence of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians further complicates things, but he must find a way to stay strong against an aggressive defensive made even more emotional under Lewis' possible final game circumstances.

Predictions: 

It's already enough for a rookie quarterback, even a greta one like Luck, to have to start his first playoff game on the road against a hostile environment and team with postseason pedigree. It's another when the added dynamic of Lewis' retirement and now Arians unavailability increases the stress load.

Those factors coupled with Joe Flacco's improve play two weeks ago against the Giants make it a rough test for the Colts. They simply need huge days not only for Luck and his young receiving core, but a blast from the past from Dwight Freeney to help Robert Mathis and maybe Jerry Hughes on the passrush, as well as big days from Vonte Davis and Darius Butler at corner.

Still, stopping the run is a major problem for the Colts, as they have given up the 4th most yards on the ground, with Ray Rice easily keen to gash and go to the house today multiple times today. Field position is so key.

That's just too much to ask for with a team that struggled to make their level on the road as they did at home. Those elements should give Baltimore the win and a trip to Denver. 27-13
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