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NFL Capsule: Colts at Ravens

NFL Capsule: Colts at Ravens

INDIANAPOLIS (11-5) At BALTIMORE (10-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Ravens by 6 1/2

2012 RECORD VS. SPREAD - Indianapolis 9-6-1; Baltimore 6-10

SERIES RECORD - Colts lead 9-3

AP PRO32 RANKING - Colts No. 10; Ravens No. 8

LAST MEETING - Ravens beat Colts 24-10 on Dec. 11, 2010

LAST WEEK - Colts beat Texans 28-16; Ravens lost to Bengals 23-17

COLTS OFFENSE - OVERALL (10), RUSH (22), PASS (7)

COLTS DEFENSE - OVERALL (26), RUSH (29), PASS (21)

RAVENS OFFENSE - OVERALL (16), RUSH (11), PASS (15)

RAVENS DEFENSE - OVERALL (17), RUSH (20), PASS (17)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Colts left Baltimore in 1984 and are 4-3 in their former home. That includes 15-6 win in January 2007 playoff game. ... Game marks return of Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, who spent four seasons with Ravens, 2011 as defensive coordinator. ... Colts DE Cory Redding played for Ravens from 2010-11. ... Indianapolis has won 5 of 6 and 9 of 11. Baltimore has dropped 4 of 5. ... Colts are 19-20 all-time in postseason, Ravens are 10-7. ... Twenty-eight members of Colts will be making first playoff appearance. Baltimore, on other hand, will be participating in postseason for NFL-high fifth straight time. ... Indianapolis followed Miami as second team in NFL history to win 10 or more games following 14-loss season. ... This is Colts' 10th playoff appearance in last 11 seasons. ... Colts went 9-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer. ... QB Andrew Luck led Colts on seven winning drives in fourth quarter or overtime, most by NFL rookie since 1970 merger. His six 300-yard passing games are most by rookie in NFL history. ... Indy WR Reggie Wayne has at least one catch in 112 straight games. ... PK Adam Vinatieri has scored in 146 consecutive games. ... Luck is first QB selected No. 1 overall to start a postseason game as rookie. . Colts RB Vick Ballard ranked second among AFC rookies with 814 yards rushing. ... Indy WR T.Y. Hilton has 861 yards receiving, second most among NFL rookies. ... Ravens are 2-2 at home in postseason. ... Could be final home game for Ravens LB Ray Lewis, who will retire after Baltimore's 2013 postseason run. ... Baltimore's Joe Flacco is first QB to start postseason game in each of his first five seasons during Super Bowl era. He is 5-4 in playoffs. ... RB Ray Rice amassed 127 yards in offense in 2010 playoff loss in Indianapolis. ... Baltimore has 21-3 record at home over past three seasons, including 6-2 in 2012. Ravens averaged 31.8 points in eight home games. ... S Ed Reed and CB Cary Williams are only two defensive players to start all 16 games for Baltimore. ... Flacco is 1-2 lifetime vs Indianapolis, throwing five INTs compared to only two TDs. ... Baltimore owns plus-19 turnover differential in its 17 playoff games.

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What lessons the rest of the NFL should, and shouldn’t, take from the league’s top rushing teams

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What lessons the rest of the NFL should, and shouldn’t, take from the league’s top rushing teams

A glance at the NFL over the final two months of the season gave an interesting glimpse where the league was headed. 

The Ravens, the NFL’s best offense, were a predominantly rushing team. They rushed for a league record 3,296 yards in the regular season and were the league’s top regular season team. 

The Titans rode running back Derrick Henry all season, which led to him finishing as the league’s leading rusher. Over the final nine games he rushed for an average of 24.6 carries per game, including 30 or more carries in three of the team’s final four games. 

And most recently, the 49ers won the NFC in dominating fashion over the Packers with just eight passing attempts and 42 rushing attempts. 

With a handful of the league’s best rushing teams advancing in the playoffs, there appeared to be a change in the way teams attacked defenses in the NFL.

But those stats have been a bit misleading for the crowd that wants to establish the run for the sake of establishing a ground attack. What the Ravens and Titans did was make rushing the football more efficient than any other team in the league. 

Baltimore rushed for 5.5 yards per carry in the regular season, half-a-yard more than any other team in the league. They were only one of three teams to surpass the five yard-mark — one other team was the Titans. 

When compared to passing stats across the league, however, none of the qualified quarterbacks had worse than a six-yard average when passing the ball. Speaking strictly from the numbers, passing is still more advantageous than rushing the ball, no matter what teams that advanced far in the playoffs accomplished. 

What the Ravens and Titans do have, however, are two athletes that are unique in the NFL. Lamar Jackson was the league’s best rushing quarterback of all time and Henry led the league in total rushing yards. 

So the Ravens and Titans didn’t reinvent the wheel and show the NFL the ground game was more effective, but instead showed the league to lean into the special talents that both teams had. 

While the Titans were clearly better when Henry had his best days on the ground, there’s not a direct relationship to more Henry touches equaling a better day for the Titans. 

When the Ravens fell behind 14-0 to the Titans, Henry had just seven rushes for 28 yards on the ground. Down the stretch, he rushed 23 more times for 167 yards — a 7.26 yard average. Essentially, the Titans used Henry most effectively when they had already scored the winning points. 

The same can be said for the 49ers in the NFC Championship, who barely used Jimmy Garoppolo's arm. But when Raheem Mostert averages more than seven yards per carry, it’s difficult to get away from the run. 

So while it might seem that simply running the ball got teams to the playoffs, and championship games, it was the fact that they were able to run the ball more efficiently than other teams across the league. Rushing attempts weren’t the reason those teams won, but how they used those rushing attempts instead.

And when Jackson and Henry are leading the charge, it’s hard not to give them the ball.

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Former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announces retirement

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Former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announces retirement

Former Ravens and Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement from coaching Monday afternoon, just a day after Tennessee lost in the AFC Championship Game to Kansas City.

Pees, at age 70, had just finished his 47th year of coaching. He had previously been a coordinator for the Titans, Ravens and Patriots at the NFL level. He began coaching at the University of Findlay (OH) in 1979 as a defensive coordinator where he rose through the college ranks. 

Pees was in Baltimore from 2010-2017, where he started as a linebackers coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012. He won Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens.

During his time as a coordinator, the Ravens ranked in the top 10 of scoring defenses three times, where he saw franchise greats like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed end their careers.

Pees’ defense in Tennessee this season stiffened down the stretch, as it allowed just 25 total points in the first two playoff games against New England and Baltimore. The Titans lost 35-24 to the Chiefs on Sunday.

In 10 of his 12 seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, Pees led his defenses to a top 12 finish in points allowed.

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