On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens won’t only have a home-field advantage against the Indianapolis Colts, they’ll have the experience advantage as well.
Of the 53 men inside the Ravens locker room, 34 have experienced postseason NFL football and four have played in a Super Bowl. However, the only man inside the Ravens locker room who has a Super Bowl ring in his trophy case is Ray Lewis. Ray also leads the team with 17 career postseason appearances.
The Colts have been in a rebuilding phase but haven’t played like it as they finished the season with an 11-5 record. Many of their offensive stars have emerged as rookies and will get their first taste of postseason action on Sunday, but 24 other Colts have been there before.
The major advantage for the Ravens will come from players who have been primary contributors to their team over the long haul. Twenty-four current Ravens have started a game in the postseason to only 14 current Colts.
Colts receiver Reggie Wayne remains a viable threat in the offense as he’s started 17 postseason games during his 12-year career.
However, the biggest threat to the Ravens comes on the defensive side of the ball where the Colts have plenty of experienced pass rushers who can cause nightmares for quarterback Joe Flacco and a suspect offensive line.
Dwight Freeney (16 starts), Antoine Bethea (10) and Robert Mathis (8) are part of a defensive unit currently ranked 26th in the league in overall defense but 9th in sacks.
Quite possibly one of the biggest deciding factors in the game on Sunday will come where the Ravens lack experience – their offensive line. Left guard Jah Reid and rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele are expected to make their first career playoff starts and will have their hands full with Freeney and Mathis.
Even though the Ravens have the edge when it comes to experience, keep an eye on the critical match-up between Baltimore’s young offensive linemen and Indy’s battle-tested pass rushers.