Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 1/2/13
Everyone's talking about the Andrew Luck factor and the Chuck Pagano variable in this one, but I think the Ravens have trumped all of that with their intelligent rationing of the physical health of their best players. The Ravens therefore should crush the visiting Colts on Wild Card Weekend...           Realistically Andrew Luck and the Colts should be no match for what the Ravens' defense is about to bring down upon them. And the Ravens' offense will be healthier, too. Ray Lewis (ILB) is back and will play at least a few significant snaps. Terrell Suggs (OLB) is rested and will wreak havoc in both pass rushing and coverage. Bernard Pollard (SS) will return and bring pressure from the defensive backfield. Ed Reed (FS) will be playing centerfield again. Marshal Yanda (RG) will return to anchor the offensive line and pave the road for Ray Rice in the running game. And perhaps most importantly of all, a well-rested Haloti Ngata (DT) will blow away the Colts' zone-block and screen game. Baltimore’s defense – and the team in general – could be at its healthiest point in a long time now that it heads into the playoffs. Head Coach John Harbaugh chose to rest a number of his starters in Sunday’s regular-season finale in Cincinnati. That strategy, plus the natural return of several players, has Baltimore amped. “This is the first time we get a chance to get our defense back, we're excited and ready to roll,” safety Bernard Pollard said after the game. “We look at this as a chance to show our fans, show our coaches, show the city and show the opposing team we're here to play. We got to show what we're made of.” Pollard missed the final three weeks of the regular season with a rib injury, but said he could have played Sunday against Cincinnati. Suggs played two games through a biceps injury, but got some extra rest by being deactivated on Sunday. The Ravens have been patient with Lewis, who missed the final 10 games of the regular season. Lewis was eligible to return to the field two weeks ago, but Baltimore gave him extra time to strengthen his triceps. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) sat out the last game and cornerback Jimmy Smith (abdomen) has been working back slowly after surgery. He didn’t play against the New York Giants, but was back in Cincinnati and made four tackles. “Jimmy looks like he’s getting better,” Harbaugh said. “He’s played his best game obviously since he’s been hurt. That will be a big bonus for us if we can be 100 percent.” Harbaugh said the benefit of giving players a week off varies by the player and their specific injury. But it certainly can’t hurt. The Ravens have only had two defensive starters play every game this season – safety Ed Reed and cornerback Cary Williams. Now they should have their full arsenal against the Colts. The defense was even playing well down the stretch despite missing players. It stifled Eli Manning and the New York Giants with just 14 points allowed. Even the Ravens’ second teamers held the first-team Bengals offense and quarterback Andy Dalton without a touchdown until the final minute of the first half. It’s not just the defense that is healthier. The Ravens offense was able to rest Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda for the finale, and wide receiver Anquan Boldin didn’t have to test his bruised shoulder. Right tackle Kelechi Osemele and fullback Vonta Leach suffered leg injuries in Cincinnati, but Harbaugh said both will be fine for Sunday’s game. “That’s our goal, to be playing our best when the best is needed,” tight end Ed Dickson said. “I think we're very ready. Another good week of practice, we had a chance to get guys healthy, we’re going to be firing on all cylinders. “Put it all together and the sky’s the limit for this team.”  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Three NBA teams that improved most early in offseason

Adam Eaton gets 4th of July surprise from brother

Clippers in talks with JaVale McGee, Amar’e Stoudemire

Report: LeBron won't negotiate with Cavs until Thompson is signed

Andrei Kostitsyn interested in return to NHL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Blazers fire assistant who said Aldridge was leaving team

Miguel Cabrera lands on DL for first time in his career

LaMarcus Aldridge chooses to sign with Spurs

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

Kansas to wear new USA jerseys after request from FIBA

What can the Saints expect from CJ Spiller in 2015?

Isaiah Thomas trolls Kings after Rajon Rondo signing

Kosta Koufos agrees to deal with Kings

Report: Blues in trade talks about Kevin Shattenirk

Report: Gregg Popovich plans to fulfill five-year contract

4-Star LB commits to Kentucky, zings Louisville

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

All hope isn't completely lost for this year's Milwaukee Brewers

Roy Hibbert likely being traded to Lakers

WATCH: Pablo Sandoval falls over railing during catch

Report: Packers TE charged with firing a gun in Miami

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.