Baltimore Ravens (3-1 SU, 2-1-1 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Sunday, October 5th at 1PM EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAL +3/IND -3
Over/Under Total: 49
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Sunday features a potentially-explosive AFC matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Both teams have rebounded from difficult starts to the season to enter this game with some positive momentum. Baltimore shook off a gut-wrenching week one loss and the Ray Rice ordeal to win 3 straight games to go to 3-1. On Sunday, they smashed the Carolina Panthers, 38-10. The Colts are coming off a 41-17 win over the Titans that evened their mark at 2-2.
Baltimore showed a lot of grit and inner-resource in getting to 3-1. They now are a galvanized unit heading into week five. They lost to the Bengals in week one, after scoring a go-ahead TD late. The next day, the Ray Rice scandal blew up, with Baltimore facing a short-week Thursday game against the Steelers. They beat Pittsburgh 26-6, before coming back to beat the Browns the following week. A 38-10 win over Carolina really caps off a great month for the Ravens on the field.
The Colts have also been forced to show some resolve in bouncing back from two excruciating opening losses. They soldiered back from a massive road deficit in Denver, only to fall short at the end. More painful was their week two loss to the Eagles, where they blew a 20-6 third-quarter lead, with their D suddenly unable to so much as slow down the Eagles offense.
An inconsistent defense is going to likely be the main obstacle for this Colts team to overcome this season. Not having Robert Mathis has rendered the pass-rush nearly non-existent at times. The Colts will now be without S LaRon Landry for 4 week after a PED suspension. The unit can quickly fluctuate from over-achieving and resilient to downright leaky. In the second half against Denver, the first half against Philly, and in their two subsequent wins over Jacksonville and Tennessee, the defense looked passable. But after watching this Baltimore offense the past few weeks, its fair to wonder how well Indys defense will hold up on Sunday.
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Offensively, the Colts are finding a groove under gutsy quarterback Andrew Luck. The third-year QB leads the NFL with 1305 yards in the air and already has 13 touchdowns. WR Reggie Wayne looks great early and T.Y. Hilton provides another great option. TE Dwayne Allen is proving to be valuable, especially in the red zone with 3 touchdown receptions. The addition of Ahmad Bradshaw is really delivering, both on the ground and as a short-pass option. And while Trent Richardson is still only averaging only 3.3 yards per run, hes at least making it so you feel like holding out hope that he can still become a good contributor in this offense. Having Wayne back in there and the addition of Bradshaw make this a very dangerous group, as 85 points in their last two games will attest.
Its just that the Colts arent going to be the only team on the field on Sunday that is able to put up points. QB Joe Flacco is dialed in and is getting a big boost with the addition of veteran WR Steve Smith, giving the Ravens a much-needed go-to guy in the aerial game. With Smith getting most of the touches, you almost forget Torrey Smith is also available. Losing TE Dennis Pitta is a bad blow, but Owen Daniels will be step in and provide some a capable receiving option. Not having Ray Rice is turning out to not be so bad–yet. RB Justin Forsett is looking great and 4th round rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro is also running well. The Ravens are averaging 4.5 yards per carry through 4 games.
Week one offered ominous signs for the Baltimore defense, especially in the second half and with the late TD bomb. But since then, theyve been very serviceable, allowing 37 points in their last 3 games. They are a bit leaky against the pass at times, but are putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stuffing the run, especially when it counts. There is a nice mix of veterans with Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Daryl Smith, and surging pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil, but youngsters like Matt Elam, Jimmy Smith, and rookie leading tackler CJ Mosley are giving this defense another gear. It wont be reminiscent of some past great Ravens defenses, but look for them to continue to get better.
Indianapolis isnt your normal 2-2. After a hurtful 0-2 start, they have righted the ship and will be very eager to not relinquish the progress they have made. And while their two consecutive wins were important divisional games, they did only beat Jacksonville and Tennessee. It gets a little harder Sunday against a team in Baltimore that seems a lot more hungry than last seasons Super Bowl hangover team.
The Coltss defense isnt a bankable unit. They could play in a wide range of form. Baltimore is the more dependable unit. But there arent many defenses that can stifle an in-tune Andrew Luck and Company, especially at home. I look for a close game to break loose a bit late, with a pumped-up Colts getting the win and the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Indianapolis Colts minus 3 points.