Ravens, Colts motivated but Reggie Wayne could prove difference
Motivation and inspiration are mentioned so often in the NFL that it is easy to also forget that skill and preparation come into play. Some will say that...
Motivation and inspiration are mentioned so often in the NFL that it is easy to also forget that skill and preparation come into play. Some will say that the inspirational return of coach Chuck Pagano will lift Indianapolis to victory; others will assert that this being the last postseason for linebacker Ray Lewis will be all the motivation Baltimore needs to win. When the Ravens (10-6) host the Colts (11-5) on Sunday, the wild-card game could be decided by Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
A star during Peyton Manning's prime, Wayne had his role change this season as the Colts lined him up in various spots to exploit matchups, and he quickly emerged as Andrew Luck's favorite, and sometimes only, receiving option. After finishing the season with 106 receptions, Wayne will be going against a Ravens secondary that no longer has the talent to back up its reputation. Luck had a poor completion percentage and was prone to turnovers early in games, but the Ravens have multiple weak links in their defensive chain and Wayne can move around to exploit them.
Pagano also has deep knowledge of the Ravens' personnel from his time as their defensive coordinator. Ed Reed, one of the few Ravens players who still inspire fear in opponents, acknowledged Pagano's importance.
"Chuck's like a dad to me," Reed told reporters. "He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC Championship Game than the first game."
• Cleveland has been awaiting a second meeting with Oregon coach Chip Kelly to hopefully complete a deal to make him the Browns' sixth coach since 1999. However, Kelly decided to keep a scheduled interview with the Philadelphia Eagles that carried into the night, delaying the Browns' second chance at signing college football's hottest coach.
Kelly and his representatives met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching an agreement, but the sides parted company without a deal. Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills on Friday, then kept his appointment with the Eagles.
• Ron Rivera will return as coach of the Carolina Panthers next season after his team's strong finish. The Panthers (7-9) won their final four games.