Week 9: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday November 6, 2011 8:05PM
Line: Ravens +3 O/U 42
After two straight weeks of ennui, the Ravens seemingly found their missing rhythm in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals. The problem for most fans to grapple with is the not knowing which Ravens team is for real. Is it the team the dominated and decimated the Steers and Rams? Or perhaps, is it the team that was railroaded and struggled against the Titans, Jets, Cardinals and Jaguars? Well none of that matters right now, it’s Steelers week and the division is likely on the line. Win and the Ravens can write their own destiny, lose and they’ll be playing road warrior for the fourth straight season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.
RavensGab.com Keys to the Game
Rely on the Run Game
In week one against the Steelers, a big part of the Raven’s success came from the running game. Ray Rice matches up very well against the style of defense the Steelers play and it showed, as he ran for 107 yards and a touchdown. Even going back to last season in the divisional matchup, the Steelers didn’t have an answer for Ray Rice. Winning starts here.
Limit the Mistakes
Leading 21-7 in the divisional round last year, the Ravens had the Steelers dead to rights. Sighting their target they pulled the trigger, promptly shooting themselves in the foot. Fumbles, interceptions, blown coverage, and a veritable treasure trove of mental mistakes allowed the Steelers to claw back into the game and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Beating Pittsburgh this weekend requires precision and extreme focus. Limit or eliminate the stupid mistakes and the Ravens should win.
Hurry up the Tempo
As the offensive line continues to struggle, Flacco was able to start clicking on all cylinders by hurrying up the offense and running the show from the shotgun. He threw for career numbers and led his team to the most impressive comeback victory in Ravens history. To beat Pittsburgh this weekend, the Ravens will likely have to do the same thing. Hurry up the tempo, get the ball out quickly and keep Pitt’s defense on the field.
Force Roethlisberger into Mistakes
Ben is in the top three of quarterbacks in hits and sacks taken. His offensive line is as porous as the Ravens’ and he gets hit an awful lot. Thing about Ben though is that the more he’s hit the more prone to mistakes he becomes. He fumbles, he throws picks, and he generally loses focus. Look at week one and you’ll see a prime example of this. The Ravens harassed him relentlessly and forced him into the worst game of his career statistically. Get after him and make him beat himself.
Find a Way to Win
Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Green Bay, all of the truly great teams over the last few years just seem to find a way to win. At times it’s as if they will themselves to victory. The Ravens have been close to this level but have never found a way to figure it out. The game this weekend is going to be tough, it’s going to be nasty, and it’s going to be a dog fight. If the Ravens are to sneak one out, they’re going to have to find a way to just win.
Ravens Gab Predictions
Jonathon Scruggs (4-2)
I hope I’m wrong here, but I just don’t have a good feeling about the Ravens right now. They’re floundering about like Pittsburgh did early on. I’m sure they’ll regroup and get back to winning, I just don’t think it starts this week.
Ravens 16 — Steelers 24
Matt Jergensen (3-3)
I’ve gone back and forth on this most of the week. The Ravens defense matches up well against the Steelers offensive line and as long as they keep Mike Wallace in front they should continue their strong play. My concerns are the home field advantage at Heinz as well as Joe Flacco and the offense. Which unit will show up tonight? More importantly can they score with the effeciciency they did in Week One and protect the football. I think a Billy Cundiff field goal is the difference.
Ravens 23 – Steelers 20
Gene Winner (4-2)
The Steelers want to avenge their loss, they are the better team and Baltimore can’t beat Ben Roethlisberger. Sound familiar? Those were the same things said prior to the week one match-up. It will be a tough played game, but I like the Ravens chances. The national media has overlooked this Ravens defense.
Ravens 27 – Steelers 24
Ben Zinman (1-1)
Ravens 00 – Steelers 00