Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/8/11
The Baltimore Ravens are out to conquer and continue their winning streak this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. And with the Colts still without a win and without their quarterback, Baltimore seems to be in the right place to secure their fourth straight win. The only similarity between the two teams lately is both are dealing with an injury issue, but even with linebacker Ray Lewis rallying only from the sideline, the Ravens have proven that they are a strong force in and out of conference.

The Ravens are currently in the race for the best in the AFC North, and last week's victory over Cleveland kept them locked in a top spot. Their record in the conference is the same as both New England and Houston, and are tied with Pittsburgh, thanks to their current winning streak. But Baltimore has already clenched the tiebreaker over both the Steelers and the Texans. Things could be taking shape for the Ravens. 

A win over Indianapolis may seem like the obvious outcome for the Ravens this Sunday, but given their habit of losing to teams in games that should have been blow-outs, Baltimore is treating this game with as much importance as any other. After all, the Ravens lost to the winless Miami Dolphins 22-16 in overtime in 2007. And while the Colts' record may not show it this season, Indianapolis is usually one of Baltimore's tougher opponents.The Ravens must stay on guard against upset-no matter what their opponents' record.

"This is the NFL and they're professionals. We're expecting them to light up and come up in here and play. They're just as big a threat to us as if we were playing anybody else," said Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.  Suggs is up to 10 sacks this season, just two shy of matching his career high set his rookie year in 2003. Sunday's game seems like a good chance to bring those numbers up.

And speaking of records, the Ravens rushed a team-record 55 times in last week's victory over the Browns, totaling 290 yards on the ground. Not to mention Baltimore's Ray Rice gained a career-best of 204 yards on his 29 carries. He has become an essential force for the Ravens this season. 

Oh, and speaking of the Ravens and records, it's impossible not to mention their place in the NFL's top five defenses: 198.6 passing yards and 88.8 rushing yards allowed per game. Defense is the backbone, or sometimes the heart, of the Baltimore Ravens. It's what their known for; it's a huge part of the team's strength.

This week a rookie quarterback takes on that defense. So just how are the Colts feeling about Sunday's matchup? QB Dan Orlovsky, whose first start was last week against New England, is going to have to find a way to make miracles against a team like Baltimore, and do his best to stay on his feet.

"If you look at stat categories, [Baltimore] is near the top in every one. They do a tremendous job on defense," Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell said. "This week is going to be another challenge [for Orlovsky]. It's going to be a bit more complicated...we can't put it all on his shoulders. We've got to give him some help."

It's games like this one when Colts fans surely miss Peyton Manning. As for that injury on the Ravens roster, Baltimore's beloved LB Ray Lewis was still out for Wednesday's practice, even though he was predicted to be back for this week's game. Both Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Ray Lewis have admitted to being "probably somewhat cautious", and with this week's opponents' record, it's unlikely Lewis would risk reinjuring his toe with the games left on the schedule. Postseason is starting to be a frequent state of mind for the Ravens these days.

With the holidays quickly approaching, Baltimore fans hope for the gift of a fourth straight win and the highest spot in the AFC North. Looks like Santa may come early for the Ravens. As for Indianapolis, fans face the pile of losses and the uncertainty of Manning's return, and cheering for the Colts seems more like praying this faceoff won't be anything too painful to watch. 
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