The Indianapolis Colts will be fighting more than the Baltimore Ravens to get into the AFC Championship game today: they'll be fighting their own dark past. The top-seeds on the AFC side of the NFL play-offs, the Colts are 0-4 in play-off games coming off a bye week which they earned by posting the best regular-season record and have lost three times in the past decade when in this position.
In 2005 they started the year 13-0 only to lose two of their final three and then lose after a first-round bye. They have lost their last two regular-season games and history is against them in every way as no one has made it to the Super Bowl in 15 years after losing their final two regular-season games. The Ravens will be trying to repeat what they did a year ago, when they knocked off the Tennessee Titans, who were in the same position the Colts are now with the best record in the AFC at 13-3.
Baltimore have won four of their last five and last Sunday beat the New England Patriots on the road in the wild-card round, jumping off to a 24-7 lead and coasting to a 33-14 victory over the three-time Super Bowl champions. "If that matters I guess there's an edge there somewhere,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when told of the Colts' recent play-off record. The Colts barely beat the Ravens earlier this year, 17-15, on a day when Peyton Manning threw two interceptions while under constant pressure.
That victory lifted Manning's record against Baltimore to 7-2, having won the last four in part by forcing Baltimore into 25 turnovers. With quarterback Joe Flacco nursing a bad hip, the Ravens will try to run stick with a crushing rushing attack that all but obliterated the Patriots and attack Manning aggressively on defence. @Email:email@example.com Indianapolis v Baltimore, 5.15am Sunday, ESPN