October 31, 2011
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This is my realistic preview of the Ravens (5-2) @ Steelers (6-2) game obviously from the perspective of a Ravens fan. This rivalry game is always great, but the story-lines coming in will make this matchup even better. The Steelers are hot and have some scores to settle after their week 1 debacle against the Ravens, while the Ravens are in turmoil and still need to prove they can win on the road against the Steelers with Ben at the helm before they can take another step to getting that Steelers monkey off their backs.
I think the Ravens will get pressure on Ben, but the Steelers have always found ways to overcome their offensive line issues particularly against the Ravens. Suggs has had some of his best games against the Steelers, but the Steelers still somehow manage to get some big strikes downfield when Ben gets away and ad-libs. The Ravens defense has to do everything in it’s power to prevent the Steelers from getting up by 14+ if they hope to have an opportunity to attack the weak Steelers offensive line. The Ravens will have their hands full dealing with the Steelers young/fast receiving corps, but the best way to negate them is with constant pressure. If the Ravens give up some big plays early Pagno might be forced to dial back the pressure packages to try to prevent the big play and the big deficit, and if that happens the game might already be lost. IMO, the Ravens defense will make some plays, but the Steelers offense will also make their share.
I hope the Ravens have learned some lessons about what their strengths and weaknesses are the past few weeks. The end of the Jags game and the last 33 (or so) minutes of the Cardinals game they seemed to get into a rhythm with the shotgun and a quick passing game. The way that the Ravens o-line has played lately it seems like the only way for the offense to function is to use this new strategy. I’m not sure if it will work against the Steelers, but it sure seems like the best option. Going into the lion’s den without Flacco’s two former security blankets it is imperative that he gets into a rhythm early with Boldin and Dickson (his new security blankets).
I know my post sounds like doom and gloom, but I don’t think this game is a blowout either way. My guess is it will either be a low scoring win for the Steelers or a high scoring win for the Ravens. When I say high scoring I mean more scoring than what is typical for a Ravens/Steelers game… something like 27-24.