"Monday Night Football" features a matchup between the two NFL franchises with Baltimore ties with the Ravens hosting the Colts. These two teams played in Indianapolis last year with Baltimore picking up the 24-10 road victory. Lamar Jackson ran for a nine-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to put the contest away. This is the Ravens' second MNF game of the season after losing to the Raiders in Las Vegas in a thrilling, 33-27 Week 1 contest that needed overtime to decide. The Colts' last appearance on Monday night came in December 2019 when they fell 34-7 to the Saints in New Orleans.
Indianapolis (1-3) is no longer winless after the Colts beat the Dolphins in Miami 27-17 last week. Jonathan Taylor ran for 103 yards and Carson Wentz had two touchdown passes through the air while playing with two sprained ankles. Both scoring strikes went to backup tight end Mo Alie-Cox. The Colts' defense forced two turnovers and held the Dolphins to 203 yards. It was a solid performance after two straight single-digit losses.
The Ravens moved to 3-1 after a 23-7 win in Denver over the Broncos. Baltimore's ever-changing backfield saw Latavius Murray lead the way with 59 rushing yards and a touchdown. Ty'Son Williams, who is the leading rusher among the running backs, was inactive while Le'Veon Bell was elevated from the practice squad. He managed just 11 yards on four rushes and zero receptions on one target. Jackson, the team's leading rusher, didn't have to do as much with his legs against Denver's defense; instead he threw for a season-high 316 yards with a touchdown in the victory.
Monday Night Football: Indianapolis (1-3) at Baltimore (3-1)
Kickoff: Monday, Oct. 11 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Ravens -7
Three Things to Watch
It's the third straight road game for the Colts, who have already traveled to Tennessee and Miami over the past few weeks. Of course, Indy is coming off a win, so they've got to be feeling good, and they need to keep winning in order to keep up with the Titans. Next week, the Colts host the Texans, so there is no look-ahead factor here. Baltimore begins a very friendly stretch of games with the next four all at home (Chargers, Bengals, Vikings to follow). After playing three of the first four on the road and starting out 3-1, this is a nice payoff for surviving that.
2. Ty'Son and the vets
The Ravens are third in the NFL at 164.5 rushing yards per game. The problem has been finding a reliable running back as last week was the first time Jackson wasn't the leading rusher. Baltimore has already trotted out Williams, Murray, Bell, Trenton Cannon, and Devonta Freeman in its backfield as a result of losing J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill to season-ending injuries before Week 1. Williams has been the only effective ball carrier (6.1 ypc), but he wasn't even active last week against Denver. Cannon isn't on the team anymore either. Whoever is in the backfield on Monday will be going up against a Colts defense that has done a decent job against the run, especially considering who it has faced already.
Overall, Indianapolis is 15th in the NFL in rushing defense at 114 yards per game allowed. However, Derrick Henry (113 yards in Week 3) and Chris Carson (91 in Week 1) are responsible for nearly half of the damage (456 yards). Last week, the Colts held Miami to 35 yards on 16 carries. One thing to watch is how active Baltimore backs are in the passing game, as Carson, Henry, and the Rams' Darrell Henderson Jr. all recorded three catches out of the backfield in their games against Indy.
3. Protecting Wentz
Wentz has been sacked 10 times already, has already injured both of his ankles, and is going up against a defense that has had eight different players pick up a sack and has registered a total of 10 through four games. Indianapolis' offensive line was supposed to be a strength for the team and something that would help Wentz turn things around, but injuries and a lack of chemistry between the line and their new QB have produced a rough start for this partnership. If the line can't keep Wentz clean in the pocket, it could lead to the same type of self-inflicted mistakes (fumbles and interceptions) that plagued him during his time in Philadelphia.
Pass protection is even more important since Wentz's mobility is impacted by his gimpy ankles. But if Wentz is afforded time to throw, there could be plays to be made with Baltimore giving up 273 passing yards per game (25th in NFL), as injuries have impacted the Ravens' secondary, particularly the absence of cornerback Marcus Peters (torn ACL).
There aren't a lot of edges for the road team in this matchup other than the Colts gaining some confidence coming off of their first win of the season. I tend to think of that more as Miami's offense was so bad, there was no shot the Dolphins were going to win that game. Baltimore, meanwhile, survived a tough opening stretch and now gets a long stretch of home cooking. There's no way the Ravens lose at home on Monday night.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Colts 14
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.