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Regular Season Game One at Baltimore: Keys and Prediction

Opening day, and could it get any bigger than this? The two top teams in the AFC North battle for what could will be a VERY early lead in the division, but also for bragging rights for early in the division. Last season it was a big play by Defensive MVP Troy Polamalu, and Sunday, it will need that type of effort to get out of dodge with an opening day win.

1. Early Momentum – It’s opening day, your on the road, and your against your biggest rivals. No better way to make things happen than to do it early and with some purpose. The Steelers could use a solid opening drive on either side of the ball to make a statement, and it also gets a lot of people wearing purple to stay quiet. More than likely, it will be up to the pass game and Big Ben to look downfield to make a play or two.

2. Make Flacco Think – Ravens QB Joe Flacco last season picked the Steelers defense apart on a last series drive to beat the Black and Gold 17-14 in Pittsburgh in week four. Then in the rematch, the team didn’t just sit back on the last drive, they ran different looks at him, and it paid off as the last Ravens offensive play hit the turf with a poor pass from Flacco. He usually doesn’t step up against the Steelers, and Dick LeBeau in what could be his last game in Baltimore, needs to turn the heat up with blitzes and different looks.

3. Spread em out – Like the Steelers, if there’s a weak spot on the Ravens, it’s their secondary and more so, the corners. Jimmy Smith, Cary Williams, Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr can be had, and it starts with the burner – Mike Wallace. He is the playmaker for the Steelers, and if you take a few shots with him downfield like Ben did a season ago, he’s bound to hit one or two, and they can pay off. If the Steelers can protect Ben long enough to allow him to get looks downfield, he’s going to get one or two – book it.

Prediction – The Steelers are 7-0 in their last five games vs the Ravens when Ben Roethlisberger is the starter at QB, and the Steelers are usually a very good team on opening day. They have never lost an opener under Mike Tomlin, and I don’t see it happening here. Sure, it’s gonna be a tough game with its usual hard hits and high emotion, but that’s where I take Tomlin over Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. He’ll have his team ready for sure, and it showed with a very quiet camp where they got their work in and they went 3-1 in the preseason. The Steelers are by many experts the pick in the AFC this year, and it starts with a hard fought win in Baltimore. Steelers 17 Ravens 14

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. steelerblitz

    September 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    1. “The two top teams in the AFC North battle for what could will be a VERY early lead in the division, but also for bragging rights for early in the division.”

    What?

    2. you’re

    3. you’re

    4. 7-0 in the last five games? That is… amazing. That’s a seriously remarkable record over five games. Hard to believe, really.

  2. Thomas Crowley

    September 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Quiet, steelers players have been running their mouths all offseason.
    I look forward to your post after the ravens win sunday.

    • The Tony

      September 10, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Granted it is only week one, but both teams haven’t talked as much as usual for rivalry week. Actually it’s not really a rivalry is the other team doesn’t win… Thank you Ryan Clark. It has been shocking that Reverend Lewis has yet to preach his gospel of Ravens this week. Praise the Lord for that.

  3. DrGeorge

    September 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    With both defensive secondaries struggling, this game for both teams will turn on (a) the O-line pass protection and (b) the ability to control the clock by running the ball. The Ravens are better at (a) and the Steelers are better at (b). Both teams are physical and capable of beating any other team in the NFL on any given Sunday. As usual, injuries and turnovers will be the wild cards. The game figures to be as close as Matt predicts, with the edge to Pittsburgh because of Big Ben’s talent. Notwithstanding the hype about New England and the Jets, the Ravens and Steelers remain the class of the AFC, and the winner of this game is likely to be the conference champion in January. I know that this is only one game and the first game of the season at that, but the implications of a win on Sunday do indeed extend that far.

  4. mark

    September 10, 2011 at 5:18 am

    I dont want to predict that the winner of game #1 of the season is likely to be conference champion in January like DrGeorge has done.However, I do agree that the class of the AFC is Pittsburgh/Baltimore. I also think the defensive games are going to be a thing of the past between these 2 teams. Sure, defense will play a part but, 13-9 and 14-10 games wont happen. I can see more of a 23-20 and 20-16 type. Ok, thats not exactly what we saw Monday night, but again, it seems that both teams now have offenses that balance what we are used to seeing out of the defenses when these two teams collide. Anyway, lets look 4ward more Steeler-Raven excitement and Lets Go Steelers!

    Steelers 23 Ravens 16

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