Dec 8, 2011
THE STORY: With four games remaining in the season, Baltimore is in the logjam atop the AFC playoff picture. Tied with Pittsburgh for the North Division lead, the Ravens could also claim the conference's No. 1 seed overall with a strong finish. Sunday's opponent, the winless Indianapolis Colts, doesn't figure to pose much of a problem for the Ravens, who are 6-0 at home and fourth in the NFL in scoring defense. Meanwhile, Indianapolis is just hoping to end its string of disheartening, even embarrassing setbacks. The Colts have allowed 166 more points than Baltimore on the season and are last in the NFL in scoring defense.
TV: CBS, 1 p.m. ET. LINE: Ravens -16.5, O/U 41
ABOUT THE COLTS (0-12): Replacing the woeful Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky threw two touchdown passes late in last week's 31-24 loss to the Patriots. While the Colts really never threatened to win the game, they did cover the spread through the backdoor and Orlovsky resurrected a dormant passing attack. Pierre Garcon caught both touchdown passes and finished with nine receptions for 150 yards. Orlovsky, who's already been a member of a winless team a few years ago in Detroit, threw for 353 yards. But Indianapolis is clearly the front-runner in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and even Peyton Manning has weighed in on the team's draft intentions. Manning still hopes to at least practice with the team before the end of the season and may ask the team to trade their probable No. 1 draft pick if he is healthy. RB Joseph Addai is also on the mend (hamstring) and is questionable for Sunday.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (9-3): Baltimore has won three straight and it holds the tiebreaker advantage over both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans if the teams finish deadlocked. Ray Rice rushed for 204 yards in last week's 24-10 win at Cleveland and the Ravens ran the ball a team-record 55 times. While these Colts are a far cry from the powerhouse teams led by Manning, Baltimore has lost eight straight times to Indianapolis. Quarterback Joe Flacco has never thrown a touchdown pass against the Colts while getting picked off six times. Ray Lewis is questionable with turf toe. He's missed three straight games.
1. In 2007, the Ravens lost to Miami, which was 0-13 at the time.
2. Orlovsky is 0-8 in the NFL as a starting quarterback.
3. Indianapolis started 0-13 in 1986.
PREDICTION: Ravens 34, Colts 3. Don't expect Orlovsky to put points up late in this one. The Ravens need this game and feast on inexperienced quarterbacks.
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