Final Word: Ravens at Colts

Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens (10-7) and Indianapolis Colts (14-2):

1. Quick starters: Recently, the Ravens have gone against a season-long trend of slow starts. Last week Baltimore jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter in a 33-14 wild-card win over the New England Patriots. In the past two weeks, the Ravens have outscored opponents 31-0 in the opening period. Baltimore needs another fast start against the well-rested Colts. Indianapolis hasn't played a meaningful game in nearly a month and rust may be an issue. If that's the case, Baltimore has a good opportunity to take advantage of that rust early on the road.

2. Loose ends: The 18th-ranked defense of the Colts has some holes. But their biggest strength is their pass-rushing defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. It will be up to Baltimore's young offensive tackles, Jared Gaither and rookie Michael Oher, to keep Indianapolis' bookends from letting loose on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Oher did a particularly good job against Freeney in the Colts' 17-15 win on Nov. 22. Freeney was held without a sack in that game. Baltimore's running game also will be key in preventing Mathis and Freeney from getting up the field.

3. Secondary concern: Baltimore's secondary will face another huge challenge against Indianapolis Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning. Last week the unit held up well, picking off Patriots quarterback Tom Brady three times. But the Colts' passing game is even more dangerous. The Ravens need a consistent pass rush to help the secondary and make Manning uncomfortable moving outside the pocket, where he is less effective. Baltimore registered three sacks against New England.