2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Ravens, Week 9

Riding high after a lopsided road victory over the Detroit Lions, the Indianapolis Colts (5-2) return home on Sunday to play host to the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) in a clash of two AFC frontrunners at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Two well-rounded AFC contenders are preparing for quite the clash in Indianapolis on Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts (5-2) are playing host to the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) in the 100th regular season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, as both teams will put in their best efforts to hit the halfway point of their respective seasons on a high note.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

The Colts are coming off a satisfying 20-point road win, 41-21, over the Detroit Lions last Sunday at Ford Field — though the score was much closer until Indy was able to pull away with a couple big defensive plays early in the fourth quarter. After getting a huge sack and forced fumble from Darius Leonard at the end of the third quarter, the Colts led by just six, 20-14, early in that final period and faced a 3rd-and-14 situation from the Lions' 45 when quarterback Philip Rivers heaved a long pass attempt to wide receiver Ashton Dulin inside the 5; a pass interference call on Detroit would set up Indy with a 1st-and-Goal situation, however, and running back Jordan Wilkins would then punch it it from one yard out, and then add a two-point conversion, to give the Colts a 28-14 cushion. On the very first play of the ensuing Lions drive, Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II would pick off Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and sprint 29 yards into the end zone for the defensive touchdown, and now Indy could really breathe easy. Rivers had his second straight standout performance, as he completed 23-of-33 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns to zero interceptions, while the Colts' defense had a season-best five sacks on the day, including two each from defensive tackles/ends Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis.

The Ravens, meanwhile, last week fell 28-24 to their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Ravens had a terrific day running the ball, with 265 total rushing yards, but would turn the ball over four times — two via interceptions and two via lost fumbles — and the undefeated Steelers (7-0) were able to take advantage. Baltimore still found itself with a chance to win the game at the end, but quarterback Lamar Jackson's final pass attempt from the Pittsburgh 23-yard line to wide receiver Willie Snead IV would fall incomplete. Jackson completed 13-of-28 passes for 208 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions apiece, while he also added 16 rushing attempts for 65 yards. Running back J.K. Dobbins, meanwhile, led the way with 15 rushing attempts for 113 yards (7.5 avg.). The Baltimore defense was led by safety DeShon Elliott, who had seven tackles and 0.5 sacks, and cornerback Marcus Peters, who had five tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: CBS — Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Charles Davis (color), Evan Washburn (sideline)
  • Other radio: Compass Media Networks — Chris Carrino (play-by-play), Brian Baldinger (color)
  • Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.)
  • Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY)
  • Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app
  • Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, click here.
  • Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call.
  • National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 10-5; Colts are 6-0 all-time against the Ravens at home.
  • Last game — Week 16 of 2017; Ravens won, 23-16, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Ravens:

  • HC John Harbaugh
  • OC Greg Roman
  • DC Don Martindale
  • STC Chris Horton

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Won at Detroit Lions (3-4), 41-21

Ravens:

  • Lost vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0), 28-24

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — WR Ashton Dulin (knee)
  • DOUBTFUL — WR T.Y. Hilton (groin)
  • QUESTIONABLE — TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee), WR Marcus Johnson (knee)

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Ravens:

  • OUT — N/A
  • DOUBTFUL — RB Mark Ingram II (ankle), WR/RS Chris Moore (thigh)
  • QUESTIONABLE — CB Jimmy Smith (NIR/Back), WR Devin Duvernay (thigh)

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Run Strength Takes On Run Strength — There might not be a better matchup to watch across the entire NFL landscape on Sunday than the Ravens' top-ranked rushing offense vs. the Colts' stout run defense, which allows the second-fewest rushing yards in the league. Baltimore averages an impressive 178.7 rushing yards per game mostly utilizing a triple-option-like attack that features Lamar Jackson, the fastest quarterback in the league (see more on him below), as well as running backs Gus Edwards (305 rushing yards; 4.8 yards-per-carry average) and J.K. Dobbins (267 rushing yards; 6.7 yards-per-carry average); veteran Mark Ingram (225 rushing yards; 4.5 yards-per-carry average) is also usually squarely in the mix, but he's doubtful heading into Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Thanks to grinders up front in the interior of their defensive line like Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner, the Colts, meanwhile, allow just less than 80 rushing yards per contest; twice this year Indy has allowed less than 30 rushing yards in a game, including in last Sunday's 41-21 road victory over the Detroit Lions, who ran for just 29 yards on the day. If the Colts' defense can stay disciplined and maintain its gaps on Sunday — which is easier said than done against this offensive unit — then Indy very well could have its way on that side of the ball.
  • Reigning MVP Comes To Indy — The problem if you sell out against the run when playing the Ravens is they have the league's reigning MVP at quarterback, who is more than capable of making things happen with his arm, too. Lamar Jackson last year, in just his second season in the league, completed 265-of-401 passing attempts (66.1 percent) for 3,127 yards with a league-leading 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions for a QB rating of 113.3. While he's not off to quite as torrid of a pace this season — he's completing 115-of-190 pass attempts (60.5 percent) for 1,343 yards with 12 touchdowns to four interceptions — Jackson is a terror for opposing defenses every time he gets the snap from the center. Colts defensive end Justin Houston didn't hesitate when he called Jackson the fastest quarterback he's ever faced, and head coach Frank Reich said it'll be important to employ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus' "11-vs.-1" swarming mentality against him. The Colts must find that right balance of playing fast, but also playing disciplined. "The way we talk about it is two sides of the same coin: Lamar is a great player and he's going to make his plays, but our goal is to minimize those the best we can," Reich said. "One way to do that is with speed and discipline. It has to be the combination of both. It's like a two-sided coin – one is not more important than the other. They are equally important and you need both of them to give yourself the best chance to stop a guy like Lamar Jackson."
  • Who Steps Up At Receiver? — Offensively, the Colts are likely going to hope to see some unsung heroes step up at wide receiver (no) thanks to some injuries at the position. Ashton Dulin, who has seen his role on offense increase in recent weeks, is out Sunday with a knee injury, while top receiver T.Y. Hilton is doubtful with a groin injury. Then there's Marcus Johnson, who is averaging more than 20 yards per reception this season; he's officially questionable, also with a knee injury (though he was a full participant in Friday's practice). That leaves Zach Pascal and Michael Pittman Jr. as the only remaining wide receivers on the 53-man roster with any game experience, as 2020 sixth-round pick Dezmon Patmon has been a healthy scratch for the first seven games of the year. Fortunately, the Colts do have a couple wide receivers on the practice squad they fully trust who have already played in at least one game this season in Daurice Fountain and DeMichael Harris. It certainly won't be easy against a Ravens defense that ranks 10th in the against the pass (222.6 yards allowed per game), but, two items of note: Baltimore on Sunday will be without star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, while another cornerback, Jimmy Smith, is questionable with a back injury; and Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has been on a hot streak his last couple games and has had great success spreading the wealth through the air, and whether it's with a couple unsung heroes at receiver, or the always-trusty tight ends and running backs, the Indy offense looks to keep its momentum going on Sunday.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts RG Mark Glowinski vs. Ravens DE Calais Campbell — The Colts just can't escape their old nemesis Calais Campbell, who was a menace in his twice-yearly matchups against Indianapolis as a key member of the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive front the previous three seasons; in his matchups against the Colts since 2017, Campbell has racked up 18 total tackles (six for a loss) with 4.0 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown in the Colts-Jaguars season finale last year. Campbell, who was traded to the Ravens this past offseason for a fifth-round draft pick, is off to another solid start with 23 tackles (five for a loss), 4.0 sacks, 10 quarterback hits and six passes defensed. While he lines up everywhere along the defensive line, Campbell's primarily been doing his work from the left defensive tackle spot opposite the right guard, so it'll be on Mark Glowinski to ensure Campbell doesn't do too much damage on Sunday.
  • Colts WR Zach Pascal vs. Ravens CB Marcus Peters — With T.Y. Hilton doubtful on Sunday as he deals with a groin injury, the Colts will likely turn to Zach Pascal to lead their wide receivers group, just like they did most of the second half of last season, when Pascal turned in a career year with 41 receptions for 607 yards and five touchdowns. Pascal will probably continue to line up all over the field Sunday even if Hilton isn't able to play, but when he's lined up out wide one can imagine he'll be getting a lot of matchups against the two-time All-Pro Marcus Peters, who has 29 interceptions during his career with the Kansas City Chiefs (where he was a favorite of now-Colts general manager Chris Ballard), Los Angeles Rams and Ravens. Peters is yet to get an interception this season, however, and he has a pedestrian 55.8 coverage grade to this point of the year from Pro Football Focus, which indicates Peters has allowed 22 receptions for 313 yards (14.2 avg.) and three touchdowns in seven games. Perhaps the Colts can keep getting their receivers, like Pascal, open across the field with rub routes — much like they've been doing the past couple games — so that they can keep a guy like Peters neutralized as best as possible.
  • Colts LB Darius Leonard vs. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson — It's not too often you'll see us highlighting a matchup between an off-ball linebacker and a quarterback, but because both Darius Leonard and Lamar Jackson are so special at what they do on opposite sides of the ball, there's no doubt No. 53 and No. 8 will have plenty of run-ins on Sunday. Last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, the Colts schemed up a couple really nice blitzes for Leonard, and he came through with a huge sack and forced fumble on quarterback Matthew Stafford, which was recovered by defensive end Justin Houston and led to a momentum-changing touchdown by the Colts. But while it wouldn't be shocking to see more blitzing opportunities by Leonard this week, his main job will be using his speed, his instincts and his striking ability to ensure Jackson can't make any magic happen outside of the pocket. It's easier said than done, and Jackson will assuredly get some big plays, but if the Colts can limit the big runs and also forced a couple turnovers — much like the Pittsburgh Steelers did against Jackson and the Ravens last week — then that'll be a huge advantage for the home team.
  • Colts DE Justin Houston vs. Ravens LT Orlando Brown Jr. — The Ravens were dealt quite the blow last week when their stud left tackle, Ronnie Stanley, suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Fortunately for Baltimore, the team is able to slide its right tackle, Orlando Brown Jr., who is a young star in his own right, over to left tackle and know he can handle his business, too. But one has to imagine that Justin Houston & Co. will try to do its best to make Brown Jr. have second thoughts about making the move over to left tackle (if that's indeed how the Ravens end up handling their offensive line this week). The Colts are coming off their best pass-rushing performance of the season last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, with a season-best five sacks, and you know the veteran Houston, who has 3.5 sacks on the year, wants to get the team lead back from Denico Autry, who had two sacks last week to push him to 4.0.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Philip Rivers (1,860 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jonathan Taylor (389 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (251 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Nyheim Hines (4)
  • Tackles — LB Anthony Walker, LB Bobby Okereke (40 each)
  • Sacks — Denico Autry (4.0)
  • Interceptions — S Julian Blackmon, CB T.J. Carrie, CB Kenny Moore II, CB Xavier Rhodes (2 each)

Ravens:

  • Passing — QB Lamar Jackson (1,343 yards)
  • Rushing — QB Lamar Jackson (411 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Marquise Brown (379 yards)
  • Touchdowns — TE Mark Andrews (5)
  • Tackles — LB Patrick Queen (48)
  • Sacks — DE Calais Campbell (4.0)
  • Interceptions — CB Marcus Peters (2)

COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 17th (363.6 YPG)
  • Scoring — 10th (28.3 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 11th (262.6 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 2nd (3.39)
  • Rushing offense — 25th (101.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 20th (40.91 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-22nd (57.69 percent)
  • Total defense — 2nd (293.4 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 5th (19.4 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 6th (213.6 YPG)
  • Sacks — 14th (18)
  • Rushing defense — 2nd (79.9 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 17th (41.94 percent)
  • Red zone defense — Tied-19th (66.67 percent)
  • Time of possession — 6th (31:51)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-5th (+5)

Ravens:

  • Total offense — 20th (358.6 YPG)
  • Scoring — Tied-8th (29.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 31st (179.9 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 30th (9.84)
  • Rushing offense — 1st (178.7 YPG)
  • Third down offense — Tied-11th (43.96 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-13th (62.50 percent)
  • Total defense — 7th (322.9 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 3rd (10.1 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 10th (222.6 YPG)
  • Sacks — 5th (24)
  • Rushing defense — 7th (100.3 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 4th (34.52 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 31st (81.25 percent)
  • Time of possession — 11th (31:04)
  • Turnover differential — 9th (+3)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • Sunday will be the Colts' 100th regular season game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • With one interception returned for a touchdown, cornerbacks T.J. Carrie, Kenny Moore II and/or Xavier Rhodes will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history.
  • With one safety, defensive end Justin Houston will tie Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history.
  • With 10 tackles, linebacker Darius Leonard will tie Mike Peterson (330) for the fourthmost tackles in a player's first three seasons in Colts history.
  • With one game with 400+ passing yards, quarterback Philip Rivers will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history.
  • With 231 passing yards, Rivers will pass Dan Marino (61,361) for the fifth-most passing yards in NFL history.
  • "You can do that a lot of different ways. You can do that with just rushing four guys and gaming that up to keep him in there. You can rush with five guys and then give the appearance of five guys and keep the guy in there and rush with more than that. You're going to have to utilize all those things this week to be able to corral him when he's back there because he's dangerous when he's back there and he's done a nice job of hitting guys down the field." — Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, on how the team can utilize a spy to keep tabs on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson
  • "I mean like I said, if our guys are in there in the game, it's because we have complete trust in them. The numbers may say that we don't have a feature guy, but in our mind it's because we trust all of them and we trust they all can win. The guys that are getting the ball, we trust that they all can win in those scenarios. We may not have a guy that we are featuring because we're spreading it around, but that doesn't mean we don't have ultra confidence in the guys we're throwing the football to." — Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, on if he would prefer to have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver vs. multiple guys who can step up at the position any given week
  • "There is no question that his comfort level with the full roster is growing in those young receivers. A lot of that comes in practice because when a guy is dinged or if T.Y. (Hilton) has a rest day, then the other young receivers are getting reps. That's a good thing. Philip (Rivers) is doing a good job of helping bring some of those guys along and gaining a comfortable level and those guys are working hard. I just give Chris (Ballard) and his staff a lot of credit for giving us the kind of depth at this position. I said to Chris several times this year about – I don't know, I just feel differently where when we've been dinged here at receiver early on, I just have so much confidence in our young receivers, even the guys who haven't been up very much yet. I just have a lot of confidence in those guys and I think Philip is continuing to develop confidence in them as well." — Colts head coach Frank Reich, on having 11 different receivers catch a pass last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, and the growing rapport between quarterback Philip Rivers and his pass targets
  • "Right now, I've just shown what I can do week in and week out. The main thing is I have a lot more. Going forward, I know what I have to do, I know what I have to get done for this team to be successful. That's the main thing. Going in week in and week out and putting in the work, II just want to contribute to the team's success." — Colts defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis, who had two sacks last week in his first start of the season vs. the Detroit Lions
  • "I have a great deal of respect for not only for Coach (John) Harbaugh but for Coach (Don) Martindale and his defenses over the years and certainly, different roles he's had in those defenses. I've felt like I've competed against his defenses many, many times – back to his time in Oakland, Denver and here in Baltimore a handful of times. He never lets you settle in. That's for sure. That's the first thing that jumps off the tape, is, 'Man, there are guys coming from everywhere.' They fly to the ball and there are balls on the ground. They do an unbelievable job of stripping and getting takeaways. It's exciting, it's a lot of fun. There's an element of the back and forth that's like. 'Oh they are going to do this. We have to counter that. They are going to counter this.' You kind of feel that throughout the game. It just never allows you to get comfortable." — Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, on his past battles against the Ravens and defensive coordinator Don Martindale

50/50 RAFFLE

  • The Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle will be ACTIVE for the Colts vs. Ravens game on Nov. 8. During the 2020 season, all Colts games including the 50/50 Raffle will be cashless. Debit cards are the only form of payment that will be accepted to purchase a 50/50 Raffle ticket. Reverse ATM machines are available for fans who need to exchange their cash for pre-paid debit cards. These machines are located outside of sections 116 and 153. For more information on the Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle, visit www.colts.com/5050.

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