On Sunday afternoon a football game will be played. A game between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, where the winner will go on to face either the Broncos or Patriots in the second round of the AFC playoffs. Many analysts will tell you that the Colts are only in the playoffs because of their “easy” schedule. Others will say that the Ravens are playing so bad that it makes their AFC title game that happened only a year ago seem like a distant memory.
As “bad” as these two teams may be, the only thing that will matter on Sunday is Team A vs. Team B. How do the Ravens stack up against the Colts, and vice versa? It’s fairly simple if you just look at statistics and talent. The Colts have the 29th worst run defense in terms of yards per game, and 26th worst total defense in YPG. The Ravens have Ray Rice who was not used extensively this season. This game will also be played in Maryland where Baltimore has not necessarily played that much better this season, but it does affect the young Indianapolis team who was a mere 4-4 on the road.
But this game goes beyond statistics. It goes beyond talent and beyond coaching. This game comes down to two people. Chuck and Ray.
Chuck Pagano: Head coach, leader, inspiration of #Chuckstrong and, quite simply, a great man. The Indianapolis Colts and Jim Irsay hired Pagano from the Ravens before the season because it was said that “the players would fight for him”. That turned out to be a bit of an understatement. Going from 2-14 to 11-5 is magic no matter how “easy” of a schedule you play in the National Football League. Not to mention he did it coaching from a bed with only 15 returning players on the roster. Chuck also brings something other than inspiration to the table in this particular game. He knows the Ravens. He has coached for them since 2008 and knows that defense front and back. Chuckstrong is a force that can not easily be matched this year but if anyone can match it, the Ravens have someone…
That video was part Ray Lewis inspiration, part I wanted to get my school in the blog somehow. Regardless, Lewis has evolved over his years in the league from his original role as one of the greatest defensive forces ever to something that, like Chuckstrong, goes beyond football. He holds that defense together and not in a “they’re bad if he isn’t there” way. They simply play at a higher, scarier level with their leader with them. Oh, and did I mention that this is Ray Lewis’ last year playing this wonderful game? His LAST game in Baltimore EVER. You think the Ravens are just going to lie down and play cold for that? Never! If anything could beat Chuckstrong this season, its Ray Lewis’ last home game ever in his last playoffs ever.
That’s why this game is so hard to pick. You don’t know which inspiration will be greater. This game goes beyond football.
“Everything that starts has an end”-Ray Lewis
“It’s already beat”- Chuck Pagano
How can you pick against either of those? If you follow sports you know that inspiration and will goes further than talent. The saying “who wants it more” is a cliché but applies here more than ever. Just go watch a high school sports game where literally anything can happen. No matter what happens today, there will be a sad fan base and crushed team and not just because of the loss of a football game.
I don’t want to bet against either of these teams. Any time anyone has bet against the Colts in a “sure thing” they have lost. No one bets against Ray Lewis. If I have to make a prediction though, I will.
Ravens 23-Colts 17