Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts: 4 Keys for the defense

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a prime-time fight with the Indianapolis Colts tonight. Let’s take a look at what the defense needs to do in this Monday Night Football appearance. Here are four keys for the Ravens defensively:

1. Up, up… and Oweh:

Odafe Oweh is off to a fantastic start to his rookie season. The Ravens have 10 sacks this season and Oweh has accounted for a pair of them. Oweh made two of the most important plays of the season against the Chiefs that allowed the Ravens to take the ball away from Kansas City for their miraculous win. Four games in and Oweh has ten tackles, six QB hits, and a forced fumble. The Ravens need to see if Oweh can have a sack in back-to-back games.

One way or another the Ravens need to get pressure on the quarterback. The outside linebackers need to keep up the momentum that they picked up last week against the Denver Broncos. Tyus Bowser came to the party with a couple of sacks. Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh both got into the quarterback take-down party. In a week where the Broncos were short on help for the inside of their offensive line, the Ravens dominated the offensive tackles. Against the Colts, Don Martindale needs to see if this can continue.

This is a big picture thing as much as a takedown the Colts thing. The growing hype about Oweh is a real area of hope. The Ravens needed a star pass rusher for a while. The outside linebackers as a whole have been exciting. If this position group keeps a positive trajectory, this defense has a bit more muscle to count on this year.

2. Justin Madubuike… We see you

Justin Madubuike got a sack in Denver as well and is having a strong season. According to Pro Football Focus, Madubuike has had 56 snaps as a pass rusher and 26 run defense stops. The PFF grade for Madubuike in pass-rushing is a very strong 73.8. While he hasn’t quite been the run stopper that Brandon Williams has always been, Madubuike offers more penetration and pocket pushing than Williams ever has. In fact, Madubuike has more talent than Justin Ellis, Michael Pierce, and Timmy Jernigan combined. Things are only going up for him.

Let’s talk about how Madubuike can be a key for this battle against the Colts. If the Ravens keep Wentz in the pocket, Madubuike’s mid-line pressure could give him nowhere to step up in the pocket. Madubuike could offer a lot of problems for the Colts’ offensive line. If the outside linebackers keep up their forceful play and Madubuike does his thing, the Ravens will win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Madubuike plus Oweh and Houston going off equals the whole thing coming together.

3. Ravens corners controlling the action:

Michael Pittman Jr. is a player that needs to be neutralized. He’s a Colts receiver that has had a great start to the season. With his slick route running, his combination of size and body control, and, most of all his toughness, Pittman Jr. can overpower some of his opponents. Mr. Pittman Jr. have you met Marlon Humphrey? Humphrey is a key player in this contest. He can take the Colts’ biggest weapon out of the entire affair.

The Colts’ passing game goes through Pittman Jr. who has eight more receptions than any other player on the team. Eight grabs behind him is Zach Pascal. Pascal does have three touchdown receptions and is a solid number two. Anthony Averett has to limit him. If the Ravens corners can clamp down on the two Colts’ receivers, Martindale can go all-in on the pressure looks he dials up.

This is one week where the tight end position isn’t a huge threat. Jack Doyle has 10 receptions this season, but he isn’t a Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, or a T.J. Hockenson. The passing game comes down to controlling the availability of the top two receivers. This is a game where the Ravens can actually do what they want to do on defense. This is a game where the matchup favors Don Martindale’s comfort zone. Steer into that Wink!

4. For goodness sake just tackle:

The Baltimore Ravens have had an iffy relationship with tackling this season. The Ravens can’t let bad tackling keep the Colts churning out plays that have no business happening. Jonathan Taylor is a heavy running back, especially in the open field. The defense has to make full use of their shoulder pads and not just throw arms at Taylor (I’m looking at you, Queen).

The Ravens almost have to look at Taylor as if they’re going against Derrick Henry. It’s the same concept. They need to hit low and run through. If the Colts’ run game flourishes or bounces big plays down the field on plays that could be bottled up, this game could be more frustrating than it has to be.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens battle Colts on MNF: How good are the Colts?

There you have it. That’s what the Baltimore Ravens need to do for this game to be a compelling victory.





Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens battle Colts on MNF: How good are the Colts?

By Chris Schisler

The Indianapolis Colts take on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. You’re here for Ravens coverage, but let’s focus on the opponent this week. Who are the Colts and how good are they? The Colts have struggled however it’s important to remember they’ve had a tough schedule.

The Colts started the season against the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson had 254 yards and four touchdowns. More concerningly for the Colts they only put up 16 points. Seattle once was known for their defense, in 2021 getting held to 16 against the Seahawks isn’t the best look.

The Colts had the Rams in the second week of the season. The Rams were favorites on the road and came away with a 27-24 win over Indianapolis. The Colts lost the game but made a convincing argument that they could be a tough out this season. The peaks of the game for the Colts were 123 yards receiving from Michael Pittman Jr. and an interception by safety  Khari Willis. Wentz got hurt in the game and he’s been playing banged up.

The Colts didn’t pick up any confidence against their AFC South rivals the Tennessee Titans. The week three loss to the Titans was to the score of 25-16. Wentz had a rough day. He was held to just under 200 yards passing despite throwing the football 37 times. The Colts scored only 16 points against a Titans defense that has struggled last year and hasn’t been much better this year. The Colts gave up 113 yards to Derrick Henry.

In week four the Miami Dolphins gave the Colts a much needed confidence booster. The Colts won the game 27-17. Jonathan Taylor rolled past the Dolphins defense for over 100 yards and Wentz had an efficient 238 yards passing and two touchdowns. The Colts got three sacks out of their defense. It was a complete team victory and signs of life for Indianapolis.

What the Colts have going for them:

The Colts have a few things going for them. First of all, Frank Reich is a good coach. If the train can stay on the tracks, he’ll keep things together. Reich deserves as much credit for the Eagles’ Super Bowl win as Doug Pederson does. The chemistry between Reich and Wentz has carried over smoothly to midwest.

Wentz has some talent around him in this offense. Michael Pittman Jr. is a receiver that I had a first round grade on when he came out of USC. Pittman Jr. has been having a monster season that makes my evaluation of him going into the league check out. He has 23 receptions for 279 yards. Wentz, Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor make a good trio of stars for the offense.

Defensively the Colts have some talent. In particular let’s higlight Darius Leonard. Darius Leonard is the linebacker Baltimore hoped Patrick Queen would be. Leonard is one of my favorite players in football, he’s so physical and he plays fast and confident.

For a 1-3 team the Colts have a surprisingly good turnover ratio (+4). Indianapolis hasn’t allowed an opponent score 30 points yet this season and have a good bit of stops on third downs. Frank Reich haven’t been a pushover and their three losses have been against teams that have been against potential playoff teams.

The Colts have issues though and it’s reflected in their record:

The Colts have issues. Having Quenton Nelson on injured reserve is a big blow for the Colts offensive line. Wentz has been showing his toughness this year, though playing while hurt is an issue that has to concern the Indy faithful. The Colts offense has stalled in key spots this season. They have two games where they were held under 20 points. In both games it had more to do with their play offensively than their opponents.

The Colts started the season 0-3. They just haven’t put everything together most of this season. Against a good team, the Colts have struggled to produce enough scoring drives. The Colts pass rush isn’t necessairly bad, but they definitely miss Justin Houston. The Colts could use an extra element on both sides of the ball. Offensively the Colts could use a better option opposite of Pittman Jr. or a star tight end. Defensively they need more play-makers that make a difference with sacks or takeaways.

The Baltimore Ravens have to show up, but should prevail:

The Baltimore Ravens can’t get away with sleeping on the Cotls. The Colts have enough talent to make this a good game if John Harbaugh’s team allows it. The bottom line is that the Colts have been competitive on a weekly basis. They’re 1-3 yet they have enough going for them that their not dead in the water in one of the weaker AFC divisions. The Colts have plenty to play for. They look like an average team, a middle of the pack team that had some it’s heavyweight fights early.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Colts: 4 predictions and a score

Hopefully this look at Indianapolis helps prepare you for a realistic view of the Baltimore Ravens’ opponent. This isn’t a pushover the Ravens are playing, but let’s not pretend that Baltimore is facing a sleeping Giant either.