Week 16 Preview: Baltimore at Pittsburgh

It’ll be a “5 Star Matchup” as Mike Tomlin puts it this Sunday at Heinz Field as the Steelers somewhat bleak playoff hopes stay alive as they take on the rival Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers lost to the Ravens a few weeks back, but will have their offensive leader, Ben Roethlisberger, back for the matchup. The last time they played, Dennis Dixon almost pulled off the major upset, but they fell short.

Here’s a couple of major keys that the Steelers need to do in order to get on the winning track vs the Ravens in a must win game at home:

1. Get to Joe Flacco
– In three games vs the Ravens last year, they were able to make plays on defense due to bringing the heat against Flacco. With the secondary playing too much like swiss cheese, this may be the only way to win. How about a couple big sacks and maybe a forced fumble or two? That for sure wouldn’t hurt. The last time they got to him five times, but it still wasn’t enough.

2. Bottle Up Ray Rice – The last time they played Rice ran though the Steelers for 155 yards between the ground and air, and had the play of the game on a 44-yard pass play on fourth down after it looked like the Steelers were poised to pull off the win. Rice is the biggest playmaker, and if the Steelers can find a way to keep him in check, they will give themselves a chance to win.

3. Take Some Chances – Right now we know that the Steelers can’t run the ball on a consistent basis, so they might as well take some shots against a suspect Ravens secondary. Last week Ben went off for over 500 yards, and while you can’t possibly expect even close to that again, the big play shots to Mike Wallace and Hines Ward may be needed to get the offense going.

4. Be Physical – Tomlin always says that when these two teams play, the most physical one wins. It’s that simple. Last time, the Ravens did just enough and played just a little harder to get the win. I can’t see the Steelers running away with this game by any means, but if they just make one or two more plays, they will pull this one out.

Prediction: This is it. Win or go home for the Steelers. They got a boost of confidence last week with the win over the Pack, but let’s be real, the issues still remain. This is another shot to show they belong with the big boys in the AFC, and like I said, it won’t be easy, but they will find a way like last week.

Steelers 21 Ravens 18

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