INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will begin the month of October with an upcoming slate against some of the early surprises around the NFL.
The first test comes on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Ravens (3-1) head to Lucas Oil Stadium following a 28-point win against the Carolina Panthers.
Amidst a crazy offseason, the Ravens might not have the same names fans have grown accustomed to in the past decade, but they are once again off to a strong start this year.
Offensively, the Ravens have been pretty balanced with backs Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro emerging as the team's lead runners.
Big-play receiver Torrey Smith has just eight catches after four weeks, with the bulk of the air attack heading in the direction of Steve Smith.
Smith has been targeted at least 10 times in three of the Ravens four games, hauling in 100 receiving yards in three contests.
The 35-year old Smith was a nuisance to his former team last weekend with a pair of touchdowns in a seven-catch, 139-yard afternoon.
Baltimore's banged up offensive line has protected very well in 2014 as quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked just three times in 152 pass attempts.
Defensively, the Ravens have changed some faces but still run their patented 3-4 scheme.
The unit has been stout against the run in 2014, with first-round pick LB-C.J. Mosley the team's leading tackler.
An area to watch on Sunday afternoon will be how the Colts perform in the red zone.
The Colts have a 65 percent conversion rate in the red area this season while the Ravens defense leads the NFL in allowing conversions at just 27 percent.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Colts on Sunday. They will then travel to Houston on a short week to take on the AFC South leading Texans (3-1) on Thursday Night Football.
Sunday's contest for the Colts marks the start of three games against the AFC North in the next four weeks (Cincinnati 10/19 and @Pittsburgh 10/26).
2014 Record:3-1, 2nd in the AFC North.
*Head Coach: *John Harbaugh, 7th season as Ravens head coach (65-35 overall regular season, 9-4 in the playoffs).
*2014 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 6th (394.3); Rushing, 8th (134.5); Passing, 12th (259.8). Defense – Overall, 12th (342.8); Rushing, 7th (82.5); Passing, 24th (260.3).
2014 Leading Passer: Joe Flacco (97-of-153 comp., 1,055 yards, 63.4 pct., 7 TDs, 2 INTs).
*2014 Leading Rusher: *Justin Forsett (44 carries, 225 yards, 2 TDs).
*2014 Leading Receiver: *Steve Smith (25 receptions, 429 yards, 3 TDs).
2014 Leading Sacker: Elvis Dumervil (4.0)
2014 Turnover Breakdown: plus 1 (tied for 13th).
2014 NFL Draft Results: In trying to reshape an aging defense, the Ravens chose a defender in each level of the defense with their first three picks in May (linebacker C.J. Mosley, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and safety Terrence Brooks). The steal of the draft for the Ravens might have come when they selected running back Lorenzo Taliaferro in the fourth round out of Coastal Carolina.
*2013 Review: *With eight new starters playing for the defending Super Bowl champs, the Ravens fell in line with past champions having trouble to follow up a title season. An 8-8 record for Baltimore was the worst record the team has seen since John Harbaugh took over in 2007. It looked like the Ravens were going to claw their way back into the playoffs after winning four straight in Weeks 12-15. However, losses in the final two games of the year ended the Ravens' playoff hopes.
Last time in Playoffs: 2012 season. Won Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31, over the San Francisco 49ers.
*Last time in Super Bowl: *2012 season. Won Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31, over the San Francisco 49ers.
*Super Bowl Championships: *Two (2000 and 2012).
2014 Pro Bowl Selections: DT-Haloti Nagta, OLB-Terrell Suggs, K-Justin Tucker and OG-Marshal Yanda.