As usual, Steelers vs Ravens lines up as the biggest game of the week, and possibly for the Steelers, the biggest game of the season. They sit at 6-3, with now two huge road losses to two teams that they clearly should have beaten, the Raiders and Titans.
Baltimore is 7-2, with losses to the Eagles and Texans, which is good news considering this game is at Heinz Field. What’s not good is the outlook for the Steelers from an injury standpoint, with Ben Roethlisberger, the teams 2012 MVP, watching with an injury that could wind up ending his season.
So with all that, today we set up the contest with a look at the three keys, and the prediction, which sadly in my opinion is not going to be a fun one for the black and gold.
1. Trickery Can Be a Good Thing – Let’s face it, lining up with Byron Leftwich vs the Ravens defense, even the 2012 Ravens D, is not a fair matchup. So why not get into that bag of tricks for Todd Haley and run some plays that maybe the Ravens haven’t seen before? Reverses, some options, and even maybe some double reverses with options would be a welcome sight to try and cross up the Baltimore D. From this standpoint, I think throwing some trick plays their way could pay off with some big gains.
2. Pressure Flacco - If you go back and look at the two game-winning drives for the Ravens in the 2010 and 2012 games, you will see that Joe Flacco seemed to have plenty of time to throw the football, and the Steelers d-backs never had a chance. Let’s not have a repeat of that if in fact the Steelers can get a lead late with the game on the line. Dick LeBeau has to put the pedal to the metal all night on Flacco, and draw up some plays to make sure he feels the heat.
3. Get a Lead – Looking back at two games in which the Ravens rallied late, the 2011 regular season and 2010 playoff games in Pittsburgh, the Ravens had leads in those games of 16-6 and 21-7 before the Steelers rallied. They lost the 2011 game in a heartbreaker, while they won the playoff game in 2010. Falling behind is not going to help with a QB that isn’t exactly use to having to play under a ton of pressure. The one thing that would help him and the team is to get a lead, no matter how they do it, via defense or special teams would be nice. If the Ravens get up 10 or more early, it’s not going to be pretty for the Steelers.
Prediction – Sorry Steeler Nation, I just can’t see it. This team has got to be feeling the emotional effects of losing its leader this past week, and with that emotion and the fact the player they lost is the most important on the field, I can’t see them winning this game. If they do survive, they need to do it via a huge night from the run game, which is about the only way. I expect a normal dogfight with some penalties as well as ugly plays from both teams, but in the end, look for the Ravens to just be too much as the Steelers turn their focus again to a wild card spot down two games in the division with 6 to play. Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 12