[caption id="attachment_20738" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Joe Robbins / Getty Images[/caption] The Baltimore Ravens play host to the Indianapolis Colts in in the second AFC Wild Card game in what is one of the more surprising playoff matchups. When & Where: Monday, 7th Janurary, at M&T Bank Stadium. Coverage: LIVE 5:00AM on Foxtel ESPN & One HD (Free-to-air). After finishing last season 2-14, few could have expected rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to have led his side to the playoffs, let alone post an 11-5 record, but that is precisely what the number one pick out of Stanford has done. They actually enter this game with a superior regular season record to the Ravens, who went on a late season slide, dropping four of their final five games to finish 10-6. The Ravens enter this game as 6.5 point favourites but it is the Colts who have the superior form, having won nine of their final eleven games, including a massive 28-16 win over divisional rivals the Houston Texans in the final week of the season. For years the staple of Baltimore Ravens football has been an uncompromising defence. This year however has seen a clear decline. They finished ranked 13th in points against, 17th in passing yards allowed and perhaps most worryingly 20th in rushing yards allowed. To put that in perspective, last season they were ranked 2nd, 4th and 3rd respectively in those categories. Injuries have certainly played a role with the likes of Ngata, Suggs, Pollard and Lewis all under an injury cloud and all having previously missed games this year. Whether these guys can play effectively against the Colts will be crucial, but given what we have seen this year, the defence is going to give up points. That means the offense is going to have step it up. Remarkably with just three weeks remaining in the season they fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. His replacement? Former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Put simply, Caldwell must get Ray Rice involved. Rice is a dynamic runner and one of the very best in the league, in the 10 games Baltimore won this year, Rice averaged 23 touches per game. In the six they lost he averaged 14 touches. With the Colts having one of the worst run defences in the league, Rice is the man who could be the game breaker. Under centre is the polarizing figure of Joe Flacco. Flacco has had a fairly average season and ESPN’s QBR ranks him as the 25th best quarterback in the league. However at home he seems an entirely different player, he averages 295 passing yards, has 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions with a passer rating of 99.0 in home games. With the likes of Boldin, Smith and Pitta to throw to, he has the weapons; it is just a question of which Joe Flacco shows up. For the Indianapolis Colts, the offence has carried them on this playoff run and as it was throughout the Peyton Manning era it is an offence based around the passing game. Andrew Luck threw for 4374 yards, a record for a rookie. Yet looking at the raw numbers his statistics are not all that impressive. He threw 18 interceptions with only Brees and Romo having thrown more, his passer rating was just 76.5 and his completion rating of 54.1 was the second worst in the league. Why then does ESPN’s total QBR rank him the 11th best quarterback in the league? He has led seven game winning drives and four fourth quarter comebacks this season. He plays his best when the game is on the line, a useful skill for a playoff contender. His key receiver, Reggie Wayne, has enjoyed a fine year catching 106 balls for 1355 yards and he will be aptly supported by Donnie Avery who had 60 catches for 781 yards, and a trio of rookies: Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and the explosive T.Y.Hilton. Their defence however has been relatively unspectacular, they rank 29th in rush defence, 21st in pass defence, 21st in points allowed and 21st in sacking the opposition quarterback. They are also 30th in takeaways, only producing 16 for the entire season. They have been getting results in spite of their defence, not because of it, and an improved showing will be needed if they are to force the upset. The Chiefs gashed them for 352 rushing yards in December and how this unit can Ray Rice is tough to see. Key players such as Dwight Freeney, Corey Redding and Robert Matthis must stand up and play much better football if they are to move forward. Watch out for: Chuckstrong. The Colts have ridden an emotional wave since September when their head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Leukaemia. He stood down as coach for three months to get treatment and the team rallied around him with a number of players and cheerleaders shaving their heads in support. He returned to head coaching duties in Week 16 as his cancer went into remission and you could see the psychological boost it provided the players. Make no mistake; this is a side that are playing for Chuck, the “Chuckstrong” movement has been a massive part of their season. In a further twist to the story, Pagano was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach of the Ravens for four seasons prior to this one. Now he is charged with masterminding their downfall. Keep an eye on how he does it. Ray Lewis' last stand. The Ravens too will look to an emotional boost with the announcement that star line-backer and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis is set to retire. The timing of his announcement is no coincidence, this is a man who is one of football’s great leaders and is an inspirational figure in the Ravens locker room. Look for him to inspire his team on gameday. Final word and prediction. The Colts are the form side but they did benefit from a soft schedule on the home stretch and are 4-4 on the road this season. The Ravens are 6-2 at home this season and did show they are still capable of quality football when they crushed the Giants 33-14 in Week 16. Their players should be fresh after most the starters were rested against the Bengals in Week 17. The biggest factor in this game for me is the Colts inability to defend the run which should allow the Ravens to move the chains, this will also set up the play action which Flacco has shown to be at his best when utilising heavily. Luck is a quarterback not afraid to make dangerous throws and a key battle with the Ravens aggressive safeties Ed Reed and James Ihedigbo looms as another defining aspect to the game. If the Colts are in it late then watch out for Andrew Luck to continue his game-winning ways, but I think the Ravens, buoyed by a home crowd, run the ball well and move onto the divisional round. Ravens to win it 27-21.