Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM
MNF - Ravens at Colts
Baltimore (-1.5/43) at Indianapolis, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN: Since they participated in the Hall of Fame game, the Ravens are in a situation where they’re playing their third preseason game but would have otherwise had their traditional dress rehearsal game on Saturay at Miami. If nothing else, it gave John Harbaugh options regarding his approach to this one. Harbaugh has called this his team’s best camp ever “in terms of guys focused on improving every day and becoming one percent better at what they do from one day to the next.”
Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson entered the preseason seemingly placed against one another due to reports of a snub and the perception that Flacco was threatened by the rookie’s presence. If that’s been the case, it’s served to light a fire under the veteran, who looked great leading the Ravens down the field in his first drive against the Rams on Aug. 9 and has put together some excellent practices. Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance, so it will be fun to see both take snaps against defenses they’ve been working against. The Colts have first-year coordinators on both sides of the ball working under first-year head coach Frank Reich, so they’ll want to be competitive here and against San Francisco on Saturday night.
Despite the new leadership, the return of a familiar face has been the central focus for the 2018 Colts since Andrew Luck has been able to throw the ball without pain once again and is on track to restore hope by opening the regular season under center. Luck led Indianapolis down the field against Seattle in his first action, converting on a 4th-and-1, taking his first live-action hits and leading the offense to a pair of field goals in finishing 6-for-9 for 66 yards.
Luck isn’t running away from the fact that his downfield passing is not where it needs to be or that he’s more comfortable firing away on short throws, but he’s progressing and will look to take another step forward here.
Indianapolis defeated the Seahawks 19-17 at CenturyLink Field, scoring their only touchdown on a two-play drive led by third-stringer Phillip Walker. With Brad Kaaya on the roster, the Colts have four quarterbacks but have thus far resisted every temptation to trade backup Jacoby Brissett, which can be considered proof that the team isn’t necessarily sold that Luck can survive the entire season or that either Walker or Kaaya can be quality backups, which makes this a huge week for everyone. Owner Jim Irsay has called Brissett the NFL’s top backup and a Boston Globe report that Seattle was rebuffed despite offering a second-round pick in return for his services would indicate he’s going nowhere, so both teams will have guys who can really test a defense at the controls for at least the opening half.
Robert Griffin III can be added to that mix as well since the Ravens’ reclamation project has played well, completing 12-of-18 passes and throwing two touchdowns and an interception that wasn’t his fault.
For veteran roster hopefuls like RB Kenneth Dixon and WR Breshad Perriman, Baltimore’s ability to move the ball effectively will give them a fair shot to try and stick around despite a crowded competition at the skill positions. Josh Woodrum, who was on the team’s practice squad last season and is well-versed in the system, would wrap up if Harbaugh opts to play four quarterbacks.
The Colts saw Frank Gore leave for Miami, so they’ve got quite the competition going to ensure they have viable replacements in place. Marlon Mack is the heir apparent after appearing in 14 games as a result last season, while former Seahawks Robert Turbin and Christine Michael are also on board in addition to fourth-round pick Nyheim Hines (NC State) and Jordan Wilkins (Ole Miss) and veterans Tion Green, Branden Oliver and holdover Josh Ferguson.
With Buck Allen and Alex Collins healthy and back in the mix at running back, Baltimore has Dixon attempting to fight off undrafted free agent Gus Edwards, who has led the team in rushing in each of the first two games. Another undrafted player, receiver Janarion Grant, is making a bid to hang on the roster due to his explosiveness and ability to also perform on special teams.
A final Saturday joint workout with the Colts that featured a couple of fights which could make the atmosphere for this one spicy, especially given that the time to impress is dwindling. Week 2 of the preseason saw more questionable calls change games and penalties looking to crack down on lowering their helmet to initiate contact whistled often, but some of the games have been unwatchable due to stoppages on every play. We'll see how Reich, a University of Maryland alum, fares against Baltimore in his first home game. Harbaugh is 30-12 in exhibition games, sporting the second-highest winning percentage among head coaches with at least one season of experience behind only Minnesota's Mike Zimmer.
The Colts opened as a 1.5-point favorite but has seen that number flip to favor the visiting Ravens. If you're betting Baltimore, a money line option (-120) may be the way to go as a result. The total moved from 41 to 43.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]