Off the back of Ray Lewis’ announcement that he will retire after the season, this week’s wild card game at M&T Bank Park has something of the generational ‘passing of the torch’ feel to it. Rookie gunslinger Andrew Luck leads his 11-5 Indianapolis Colts into town in a bid to start what he hopes to be the first of many playoff runs for him and his young Colts team, whilst Lewis will be looking to take his playoff savvy Baltimore Ravens squad back to the promised land that he himself experienced way back in 2000.
Whilst the Luck-lead Colts enter this game unburdened by expectations and off the back of an emotional win over the Houston Texans, the Ravens come into this game having rested most of their starters during last weeks loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and might be feeling the pressure to perform after Lewis’ big announcement earlier on this week. Whilst resting their starters enabled the Ravens to establish a fairly clean bill of health and have their big names ready for Sunday, I’m not sure that any team that’s lost four of its last five games wants to be coming into a game without a win the previous week and play against a young team who have some emotional momentum behind them and have won four of their last five.
Lewis and Luck are the key on field figures in this game, and their proverbial chess match, although no old school Lewis vs. Manning matchup, will still be an intriguing one to watch play out on our screens. One thing that should be taken into account is the Chuck Pagano factor, and no I’m not talking about “Chuck Strong” here, I’m talking about his intimate knowledge of the Ravens defense and its components from his four years of coaching in Baltimore. Luck may have very little experience when it comes to facing off against a middle linebacker of Lewis’ caliber, but don’t be surprised if Luck has some new tricks to teach the old dog on Sunday from some personal Pagano tutelage.