Three things each team needs to do to win
It can't get any easier than this. Here are the three things each team needs to do to win, writes Len Pasquarelli.
A quick breakdown of the Indianapolis-Baltimore divisional playoff game.
The Ravens will win if ...
2. The Baltimore defense gets Peyton Manning moving his feet in the pocket. The Ravens were second in the league in sacks (60) and first in sack yards (418), and the unit featured five players with five or more sacks, led by end Trevor Pryce, with 13. The Baltimore edge rushers -- Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott -- are all dangerous hybrid-type defenders and the Indianapolis tackles will be tested. But Pryce is also effective when he moves inside, particularly on third down, where he will be matched up against the Colts' guards. On those occasions, the guards might need some assistance from center Jeff Saturday to help keep the very active Pryce out of the Indianapolis backfield.
3. Tight end Todd Heap can get up the seam against the Indianapolis safeties and make some plays in the middle of the field. Heap can also be a factor in the red zone, where he is a very clever receiver who knows how to uncover himself in tight spots. Heap is the guy to whom McNair most often looks to bail him out, especially on third down. Of the tight end's 73 receptions in the regular season, 46 were for first downs or touchdowns. The Ravens like to move the versatile Heap around, including playing him out in the slot, to help create mismatches. If the Colts are forced to bring free safety Bob Sanders down into the box to help support against the run, it will mean more room in which Heap can operate.
The Colts will win if ...
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3. Avoid turnovers at all costs. Baltimore led the NFL in takeaways (40) and turnover differential (plus-17) in 2006. The Ravens had 28 interceptions and three defenders had five or more pickoffs. The takeaway frenzy, not surprisingly, is fueled by the Baltimore pass rush, which will come from a variety of angles. No one is better at discerning where the rush is coming from than Manning, but he has to get rid of the ball and be as accurate as possible. The Baltimore secondary features two big-play ballhawks in safety Ed Reed and resurgent cornerback Chris McAlister and if you put the ball in their hands, there's a pretty good chance that they're going to put it in the end zone.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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