One of this weekend's AFC playoff games pits the Ravens against the Indianapolis Colts. There are many storylines linked to Sunday's contest including the history between Baltimore and Indianapolis, the inspiring story of Colts coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, and the impending return of former Ravens like defensive end Cory Redding, free safety Tom Zbikowski and offensive lineman Joe Reitz.
There's also the matter of the two quarterbacks, the Ravens' Joe Flacco and the Colts' Andrew Luck. Despite being the top overall pick in the NFL draft in April, Luck has helped the team overcome last year's 2-14 record and post an 11-5 mark that earned Indianapolis the No. 5 seed in the conference.
Former Colts coach Tony Dungy, an analyst for NBC's Football Night in America, heaped praise on Luck, saying, "Andrew Luck is the difference between a two-win Colts team from last year and an 11-win team this year."
There's no debating that Luck has played impressively in his first season in the NFL. He finished the regular season ranked seventh in passing yards (4,374), 10th in completions (339) and 14th in touchdown passes (23).
In fact, in those three categories, Luck has outperformed Flacco, who ranks 14th in yards (3,817) and 15th in completions (317) and was tied for 15th in touchdowns (22).
But Flacco has outpaced Luck in completion percentage (59.7 percent for Flacco compared to 54.1 percent for Luck), interceptions (10 to 18) and passer rating (87.7 to 76.5).
Still, former St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk, an NFL Network analyst, said the pressure is on Flacco – who is in the final year of his rookie contract and is angling for a lucrative, long-term deal – to play better than Luck at M&T Bank Stadium.
"If Joe Flacco gets outplayed by Andrew Luck, what an indictment on him and the contract he is asking for," Faulk said.