Wild Card Saturday was a huge bust, so it’s all up to Wild Card Sunday for redeeming the first round of the playoffs. The quality of play had better be improved, but the amount of narrative noise gets ramped up considerably. Here we have Chuck Pagano returning from cancer to go against the team for which he served as defensive coordinator last season before being hired as head coach of the Colts. That former team, meanwhile, is bidding farewell to the most iconic player in its history.

Baltimore started the season 9-2. Though they had suffered humbling defeat to the Texans at that point, the Ravens were still thought to be in the mix for AFC contenders. Then they lost three in a row, one of which was to Charlie Batch, and generally dropped out of serious Super Bowl contention. However, in their last meaningful game before the playoffs, Baltimore did pulverize the Giants at home. Is that a signal that they righted themselves just in time to make a run? Possibly, but if Baltimore does prevail, expect Ray Lewis’ return from injury to be the only reason cited by talking heads.

It could also be because the Colts just aren’t very good. According to Football Outsiders’ metrics, the Colts are the worst 11-5 team ever and the fourth worst team to ever qualify for the postseason. That’s a nugget that Peter King will have to leave out of his Hollywood treatment for the Colts season. Also worth nothing that should the Colts win, they will travel to Denver to do battle with the Broncos. More importantly, they will unleash the great narrative apocalypse that is Peyton Manning versus the team that cast him off because of NeckAIDS, only to be exceeded in hype by the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady meeting likely to follow the next week.

Andrew Luck has experienced flashes of greatness to come this season, but has also generally a turnover machine. The giant ogre did finish the final three weeks of the season without a turnover, his only such span of the season, so take that for what it’s worth.


Y’all get set. Jim Irsay has his frat boy hat and his naked lady paintings at the ready. He’s had a few bumps of coke and he’s blaring Creedence at 200 decibels. It’s playoff time (or just another Sunday at the Irsay mansion).