Hey there, Charm City. I missed ya.
I'm back in Baltimore after a few days down in Dallas helping out with MASNsports.com's coverage of the MLB Winter Meetings, and boy, is it good to be back. For some reason, I expected warm weather down in the Big D, but it was freezing down there, and I started to get the shakes after being away from football for four days.
My thanks to Brian Eller for helping to pick up the slack while I was gone and contribute some Ravens coverage here on our site.
Anyway, the Ravens will host the 0-12 Colts on Sunday, and John Harbaugh's guys will hope to end an eight-game losing streak to the guys from Indianapolis.
Here's how the two teams match up going into Sunday's game:
Ravens: 345.0 yards per game (15th)
Colts: 293.1 yards per game (29th)
Ravens: 114.8 ypg (t-14th)
Colts: 99.0 ypg (26th)
Ravens: 230.2 ypg (14th)
Colts: 194.1 ypg (t-26th)
Ravens: 287.3 ypg (third)
Colts: 387.1 ypg (28th)
Ravens: 88.8 ypg (second)
Colts: 144.2 ypg (30th)
Ravens: 198.6 ypg (fifth)
Colts: 242.9 ypg (22nd)
Ravens: +4 (t-ninth)
Colts: -13 (t-30th)
I've said it before and I'll say it again - this season might illustrate how important Peyton Manning is to the Colts even more than the year the All-Pro quarterback led Indy to a Super Bowl. Without Manning, the Colts quickly went from a playoff lock (this will be the first time they've missed the postseason since 2001) to a team that spiraled out of control.
With Manning out, the Colts have shuffled a few guys at the quarterback spot, but they'll go into Sunday's game leaning on Dan Orlovsky, who is coming off a nice performance against the Patriots last week. Orlovsky went 30-of-37 for a career-high 353 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against New England, and he kept the Colts in the game despite the fact they were facing a strong Pats team.
The Colts still have plenty of weapons for Orlovsky to work with (Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark, etc.), but their overall offensive numbers have plummeted this season with Manning not under center.
Defensively, the numbers aren't much better. In fact, they're brutal. Indianapolis allows a league-high 29.8 points per game, has forced a league-low 10 takeaways and allows opponents an NFL-high 48.2 success rate on third downs. You won't win many games that way.
Still, Pro Bowl defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will test the Ravens' pass protection and could give Joe Flacco some headaches.
The Colts might hang around on Sunday, but I'd be really surprised if they ever really test the surging Ravens.
Put me down for a 35-17 Baltimore victory.
What about you; anyone gutsy enough to take the Colts in this one? Anyone feel the Ravens will yet again to play down to their competition and struggle against Orlovsky and Co.? Or will the Ravens roll to 10-3 and stay tied with the Steelers atop the division?
Who you got?