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Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge: Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens

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Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens Playoff Preview

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday brings the kickoff to Wild Card Weekend, which is regarded by many as the most exciting weekend of the NFL season. We will break down several important statistics that will dictate the outcome of each game. Based on these stats, we will identify which players will make a big impact from a fantasy football perspective. If you haven’t already joined the Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge, then I would recommend it.

The first game on Sunday kicks off at 1:00 p.m. and features the Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens.

Despite Baltimore holding the higher seed, Indianapolis actually has the better record. The Colts have rallied around their ailing head coach, Chuck Pagano and star rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck. Nobody projected that Indianapolis would turn their team around so quickly, emerging from the worst record in the NFL to 11-5. Indianapolis is perhaps the greatest example in recent memory of how far inspiration can carry a team. The circumstances are different for Baltimore but they now have inspiration of their own with the announcement that Ray Lewis will retire after this season.

Indianapolis has played their best football when it counted, earning five victories in their last six games. After setting themselves up comfortably for a playoff spot, the Ravens have struggled down the stretch winning just two of their last six contests.

Despite their recent play, the season-long trends have indicated that Indianapolis is a poor team on the road, while Baltimore plays significantly better at home.

Follow the slideshow to see who will win this matchup on Sunday and why.

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Passing Game

Jeffrey G. Pittenger-US PRESSWIRE

Advantage: Baltimore Ravens


Average Team Passer Rating:

Colts: 76.4

Ravens: 86.4

Opponent Average Team Passer Rating:

Colts: 90.1

Ravens: 80.6

Completion Percentage:

Colts: 53.98%

Ravens: 59.64%

Third Down Conversion Percentage:

Colts: 42.79%

Ravens: 36.87%

Andrew Luck is a terrific leader for the Indianapolis offense but the unit has played noticeably worse on the road. It's not just that the Colts record is worse on the road, but the stats reflect this as well. On the contrary, the Baltimore offense has stalled on the road and shined at home. Both teams have weapons at receiver but I give Baltimore the edge at home.

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Joe Flacco, 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Torrey Smith, 4. Reggie Wayne 5. T.Y. Hilton, 6. Anquan Boldin, 7. Dennis Pitta

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Running Game


Advantage: Baltimore Ravens


Rushing Play Percentage:

Colts: 39.68%

Ravens: 42.61%

Yards per Rush Attempt:

Colts: 3.8

Ravens: 4.3

Opponent Yards per Rush Attempt:

Colts: 5.1

Ravens: 4.0

Ray Rice is one of the top running backs in the league and while Vick Ballard isn't a slouch, he just doesn't compare. Baltimore also features one of the top running blocking lines in the league and should be able to open up plenty of holes against a soft Indianapolis defense.

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Ray Rice, 2. Vick Ballard

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Baltimore Ravens


Total Defense:

Colts: 31st

Ravens: 19th

Sacks per Game:

Colts: 2.0

Ravens: 2.3

Opponent Points per Game:

Colts: 24.2

Ravens: 21.5

Takeaways per Game:

Colts: 0.9

Ravens: 1.6

Baltimore has the obvious advantage here and the statistics support that. They are getting their emotional leader back in Ray Lewis. The unit will try to rise to the occasion and win for their caption. Indianapolis boasts a few talented players in Vontae Davis, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis but they lack in overall depth.

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Special Teams

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Baltimore Ravens


Special Teams*:

Colts: 12th

Ravens: 1st

*Points each team receives from the five elements of special teams: field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kick returns, punts, punt returns.

Baltimore boasts the number one special teams unit in the league according to the Football Outsiders formula. They are efficient in all aspects with an accurate kicker in Justin Tucker, a punter with a knack for pinning opponents deep in Sam Koch and an explosive returner in Jacoby Jones.

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Justin Tucker, 2. Adam Vinatieri

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Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Outcome: Indianapolis Colts - 14, Baltimore Ravens - 27

Turnover Margin:

Colts: -12

Ravens: +9

Home/Away Record:

Colts: 4-4 away

Ravens: 6-2 home

Last 3 Games:

Colts: 2-1

Ravens: 1-2

Penalties per Game:

Colts: 5.9

Ravens: 7.6

From a statistical standpoint, Baltimore appears to have the advantage in every aspect of the game. On top of that, they are playing at home where they thrive. Indianapolis should feel accomplished for reaching the playoffs but Baltimore has the better team and is more hungry for a championship.