The Ravens have won three straight after cruising to victory over the Broncos in Denver last Sunday. Now Baltimore hosts the 1-3 Indianapolis Colts at 8:15 p.m. Monday night as it begins an extended homestand. Here’s who has the edge in each phase of the game:
Ravens passing game vs. Colts pass defense
Quarterback Lamar Jackson has led the Ravens to victory with his arm the last two weeks. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 316 yards against a very good Denver defense, continuing his recent success with downfield throws, often set up by play-action. The Ravens rank 13th in passing and sixth in yards per attempt after ranking 32nd and 21st in the same categories last season.
Wide receiver Marquise Brown bounced back from a rough game in Detroit with four catches on five targets for 91 yards against the Broncos, including a diving 49-yard touchdown grab. Tight end Mark Andrews has strung together three strong games after a subpar Week 1. Jackson also thrived throwing to less familiar targets in Denver, where second-year wide receivers James Proche and Devin Duvernay combined for 105 yards on eight catches. With Miles Boykin and first-round pick Rashod Bateman potentially in the mix against the Colts, Jackson could be throwing to the best set of targets he’s had in four seasons with the Ravens.
He’ll go against a Colts defense that has allowed opponents to average 7.3 yards per attempt, sixth worst in the league. The Colts lack an elite pass rusher, though DeForest Buckner (5 quarterback hits, 1 sack) has been effective from the inside. They finished with three sacks and four quarterback hits in their Week 4 victory over the Miami Dolphins, which could forecast trouble for the Ravens’ undermanned offensive line. Do-everything linebacker Darius Leonard has an interception and three passes defended, more than any player in the Indianapolis secondary. He did not practice Thursday and was limited Friday because of an ankle injury. Jackson completed 19 of 23 passes for 170 yards in a 24-10 win over the Colts last season.
Colts passing game vs. Ravens pass defense
Quarterback Carson Wentz produced his best game of the season in Sunday’s 27-17 win over the Dolphins, completing 24 of 32 throws for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He played through injuries to both his ankles. Former second-round pick Michael Pittman Jr. (23 catches on 36 targets, 279 yards) has been Wentz’s top target. He also throws frequently to running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, who have combined for 25 catches on 30 yards. Hines did not practice Thursday and was limited Friday because of a shoulder injury. These short passes could challenge the Ravens’ inside linebackers, who’ve struggled in coverage. Indianapolis has averaged 5.6 yards per attempt, 26th in the league.
The Ravens played their best defensive game of the season in Denver, holding Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock to 178 combined passing yards, with four sacks and an interception. They still rank 24th in pass defense after their struggles in Weeks 1 and 2. Defensive end Calais Campbell doesn’t have a sack but has been a consistent force. He finished with three quarterback hits and five tackles against the Broncos. Outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser lead the Ravens with two sacks each. They’ll have a chance to add to their totals against an injury-depleted Colts offensive line that could be without center Ryan Kelly (groin) and tackle Braden Smith (foot/thumb). Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett have delivered solid coverage, while safety Chuck Clark has played the best football of his career on the back end.
Ravens running game vs. Colts run defense
The Ravens could not get their running game untracked against the Broncos, who crowded the line of scrimmage and dared Jackson to beat them deep. They averaged a season-worst 3.4 yards per carry and needed a Jackson run on an otherwise meaningless final play to extend their streak of 100-yard games to 43. That decision by coach John Harbaugh led to a public war of words with Denver coach Vic Fangio. Harbaugh benched Ty’Son Williams (6.1 yards per carry) against the Broncos, opting to go with Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman. The veteran trio combined for just 74 yards on 23 carries, with Murray carrying the heaviest load. Will Harbaugh go back to Williams against the Colts? Jackson (279 yards, 6.6. yards per carry) was dealing with a sore back going into the Broncos game and carried a season-low seven times for 28 yards. He will face sturdy Colts run defense that held the Ravens to 110 yards on the ground last season.
Leonard leads the way, but defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis and rookie defensive end Kwity Paye (who’s battling an ankle injury) have also played well against the run. The Colts limited the Dolphins to 35 rushing yards after allowing 180 the previous week in a loss to Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.
Colts running game vs. Ravens run defense
Taylor (274 yards, 4.7 yards per carry) is one of the best young running backs in the league. The Ravens held him to 27 yards on six carries last November, but the 2020 second-round pick went on a tear shortly after that. Wentz (14 carries, 68 yards) is a threat to run despite his injuries. The Colts will play without injured guard Quenton Nelson, one of the league’s best. His absence did not stop Taylor from gaining 103 yards on 16 carries in Miami, however.
The Ravens have been solid against the run all season, holding opponents to 4.1 yards per carry, but they have not faced a back who’s as significant a focal point as Taylor is for the Colts. Campbell and Oweh have been the team’s most effective run defenders, with second-year linebacker Malik Harrison offering steady support when he’s on the field.
Ravens special teams vs. Colts special teams
Justin Tucker followed up his miraculous game-winner in Detroit by making all three of his field-goal attempts against the Broncos. Despite mishandling two punts, Devin Duvernay has rapidly become a weapon, averaging 18.9 yards on 10 punt returns. The Ravens rank second in special teams DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, the same spot they finished in last season.
Indianapolis ranks 11th in special teams DVOA. Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has made nine of 10 field-goal attempts. The Colts haven’t squeezed much production from their punt-return game with just six yards on three runbacks.
Ravens intangibles vs. Colts intangibles
The Ravens played their most complete game of the season in that 23-7 road win over the Broncos. They’re getting healthier on defense and riding newfound confidence in their downfield passing attack. Despite all their injuries, they’re 3-1 going into a stretch of four straight games at M&T Bank Stadium. Jackson is 33-8 as a regular-season starter, so he finds a way more often than not.
The Colts have dealt with health woes of their own and a brutal early-season schedule, but they’re on the upswing coming off a solid victory in Miami. They face a significantly easier schedule from here on, so they know an upset of the Ravens could put them right back in the AFC South mix. Coach Frank Reich led them to playoffs twice in his first three seasons.
The Ravens found an effective formula in Denver, mixing punishing defense with a big-strike offense that took advantage of the Broncos’ fixation on stopping the run. The Colts are also coming off their best all-around performance, but they’ll be playing on the road for the third straight week, and it’s not clear Wentz is the man to go play-for-play with Jackson. The Ravens will kick off their long homestand with a workmanlike victory. Ravens 30, Colts 20.