A three-game win streak has kept the Baltimore Ravens in the mix for the AFC's best record. Given their next opponent, they'll almost certainly remain in good position after this week. The Ravens will try to extend their run and delight the Baltimore fans by dropping the Indianapolis Colts to 0-13 on Sunday. Baltimore (9-3) has needed its win streak to remain tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North. Two other clubs in the conference - Houston and New England - have the same record, but the Ravens have clinched tiebreakers over at least the Steelers and Texans. The Ravens rushed a team-record 55 times in their latest victory, getting 290 yards on the ground in a 24-10 win at Cleveland last Sunday. Ray Rice gained a career-best 204 yards on his 29 carries.
The Colts showed some resilience in quarterback Dan Orlovsky's first start for the team last Sunday at New England. Orlovsky had 240 of his career-best 353 passing yards in the fourth quarter - along with two touchdowns to Pierre Garcon - but he couldn't help his team completely erase a 28-point deficit in a 31-24 defeat. He is likely to have more difficulty playing as well in this game, with Baltimore among the NFL leaders in a number of defensive categories. The Ravens are in the top five with 16.0 points, 287.3 yards, 198.6 passing yards and 88.8 rushing yards allowed per game. New England, by contrast, currently ranks last in the NFL in average yards (412.1) and average passing yards (310.0) given up. Orlovsky will certainly need assistance if the Colts are to avoid falling to 0-13 for the first time since 1986, the franchise's third season in Indianapolis after abruptly leaving Baltimore.
Ravens fans would relish the chance to witness that dubious feat and see their team break an eight-game skid to the Colts, which includes two playoff defeats. Peyton Manning's absence following neck surgery and a number of other injuries have hurt Indianapolis. Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, however, is likely to play after missing the past three games with an ailing left leg. Middle linebacker Pat Angerer, tied for second in the league with 112 tackles, is expected to return from a right knee injury suffered against New England.
It's not a stretch to say that Indianapolis has desperately missed Manning. His absence has exposed a weak rushing attack, and that has allowed opponents to center their efforts on attacking the rotation of Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and now Orlovsky. Look for Baltimore to do much of the same, especially with LB Terrell Suggs on the outside and DT Haloti Ngata and DE Pernell McPhee up front. The Colts' defense ranks in the bottom half of the league against the run and the pass, which may foretell a liberal dosage of Rice. Indianapolis might just be the tonic to cure Flacco's recent inconsistency.