Key Matchup: Trevor Pryce vs Colts OL

Ravens defensive lineman Trevor Pryce is a handful, and two Colts offensive linemen will have to deal with the majority of his attacks on Saturday -- RT Ryan Diem and RG Jake Scott. Greg Talmage breaks down the matchups for you.

Since Trevor Pryce alternates his positioning on the defensive line in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme and gets plenty of sacks from each spot, I figured it was best to look at both Colts offensive linemen who will be primarily responsible for slowing him down -- Ryan Diem and Jake Scott.

Pryce is experiencing a revival in Baltimore. This offseason Denver released him after nine-years in the organization. He totaled four sacks in his last two seasons with the Broncos, partly because a back injury sidelined him for most of 2004 and he was used as an outside linebacker who dropped back in coverage last year. Pryce, though, hasn't missed a game this season and leads the Ravens with 13 sacks.

DE Trevor Pryce vs. RT Ryan Diem

Just like Pryce, Colts OT Ryan Diem is experiencing a bit of rejuvenation this season. Diem battled nagging knee and ankle injuries in recent seasons, which really affected his ability to work effectively against speed rushers.

While an improved bill of health has helped Diem tremendously, speed-rush defensive ends will still give him fits. At 6-foot-5 and 286 pounds, Pryce has a blend of size, speed, strength, technique and wisdom. The 10-year veteran has seen and beat any and all pass-blocking techniques.

Colts OT Ryan Diem (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Typically, Pryce likes to bull-rush past an overwhelmed offensive tackle or uses a combination of pass-rushing moves to penetrate gaps and burst into the backfield. Diem does a nice job driving his legs after contact and has excellent lower-body strength. Getting into position, making that good initial pop and using his lower-body strength will be key if Ryan is going to slow Pryce's bull-rush.

Diem will struggle if he fails to latch on and engulf his man. Another problem he's had in pass pro as of late has been that he's taking too long to get set, which causes him to get out of position quickly -- and as a result he'll end up lunging in an attempt to make up for the misstep.

RT Ryan Diem is going to struggle one-on-one against LDE Trevor Pryce from time-to-time. Pryce is playing at a very high level right now and should be very fresh coming off the bye. So do don't be surprised to see Indianapolis TE Ben Utecht lining up beside Diem to help him with Trevor Pryce throughout the game.

DT Trevor Pryce vs. RG Jake Scott

As discussed in our first match-up breakdown of the week, 3-4 defenses in the past like the Chargers, Steelers, and Cowboys all had success getting to Colts QB Peyton Manning because those teams were able to get inside pressure and collapse the pocket – thereby flushing Manning out of the pocket.

This week as soon as he breaks that containment from the inside pressure, expect to see the Ravens send one of their quick outside linebackers at him, resulting in some Peyton Manning "happy feet", which is hardly ever a positive thing.

The Ravens will also be counting on their sack leader Trevor Pryce to get a lot of inside pressure. Pryce alternates playing defensive end and tackle. We know how good he is on the edge, but he is just as effective when he moves inside, primarily on third down. Here he'll be matched up against the Colts' guards.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome recently talked about how Pryce's ability to rush from the inside was a big reason why they signed him. "When we decided to go after Trevor in free agency last offseason, his ability to be an inside presence as a pass rusher was needed … We felt like with Adalius and Suggs, we could rush the edge. But if the quarterback was able to step up you still can't get him."

Pryce and his 13 sacks have obviously provided a very nice inside pass-rushing complement to linebackers/defensive ends Adalius Thomas (11 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (9 1/2), who rush from the outside.

Colts OG Jake Scott (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Keeping Pryce out of the backfield and from penetrating interior gaps will fall on RG Jake Scott. Scott has good feet, shows solid quickness off the snap and when recovering. He's a decent athlete with good balance, lateral mobility and range. He's probably played his most consistent and complete professional this season.

But, on the negative side, he is lean and lacks pop and strength to consistently anchor against bull rushers. That's problem against an excellent bull-rusher like Pryce. On those occasions, the guard is likely going to need some assistance from center Jeff Saturday to help keep the very active Pryce out of the Indianapolis backfield.

I truly believe this game is on the Colts offensive line. If they can withstand and block Baltimore's zone blitzes, schemes, disguises, shifts, stunts and all the gyrations of the Ravens' front seven, the Colts should be fine. But that's a lot easier said then done.

Besides the O-line, RBs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes will need to do a good job keeping up with the blitz, and I imagine TE Ben Utecht will spend a lot of time helping on the edges.

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