STEELER WEEK. STEELER WEEK. STEELER WEEK. STEELER WEEK.
Hey everybody, it’s Steeler Week!
The Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football is a match made in heaven. Regardless of either teams standing, every time this clash is played at Heinz Field, great football is happening. This clash even more so as this could be the turning point in the AFC North.
Both the Steelers and Ravens sit at a nice record of 5-3 with the Cleveland Browns right behind them at 4-3 and, by the magic of math, the Cincinnati Bengals sit atop the division at 4-2-1. If the Browns win and the Bengals lose, the winner of this game would lead the division and the loser would end up last in the North. And that is what I mean by a turning point.
Now, I’m not big believer in using past records to predict a team’s season, but for relevancy’s sake, the last time the Ravens were 6-3 and 5-4, they went on to the conference championship and the divisional round respectively. The last time the Steelers were 6-3 and 5-4, they missed the playoffs entirely both years. Now this doesn’t necessarily predict either team’s season, I’m just trying to stop fans from jumping off the Bay Bridge if the Ravens end up losing.
Trying to preview this game is sort of a hard topic at the moment. In the past, a Ravens-Steelers game was normally a clash of two defenses pulverizing the opposing offenses, this game however might be just the opposite. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a 522 yard, six touchdown performance. The Ravens are fifth in the league with 217 points on offense. The Steelers’ defense has given up the tenth most total points at 196. The Ravens’ defense has been very stout as of late, but gave up 27 points to the Bengals and have been brought back to earth, now they have to face a hot Steelers offense without top cornerback Jimmy Smith. You can see why one would think this could end of being an offensive shootout.
“But the Ravens already beat the Steelers 26 to 6 earlier this season! They’ll be fine.”
That first part is true, however, that was at home for the Ravens. The Ravens are notorious for doing poorly on the road, what stands out this year is the fact that they only one passing touchdown on the road compared to six at home and the number of plays run on the road is almost half of the plays run at home, 121 to 211 respectively. And that big gap between the plays run is not due to big plays, 7.08 average yards gained at home compared to 6.92 on the road. That offense is going up against a Steeler defense that is significantly stouter at home than on the road. They have not given up a rushing touchdown at home yet and their opponent’s average yards gained is 6.73 at home compared to 7.86 on the road.
Let us not forget about the injuries.
First time around, the Ravens didn’t have Lardarius Webb. This time around, no Jimmy Smith and possibly no Terrell Suggs or Owen Daniels. Meanwhile, the Steelers look completely healthy. No Jimmy Smith means Webb will be covering Antonio Brown and the likes of Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks will be on the athletic freaks, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. I have no confidence in Franks or Brown to cover those two, Franks was beaten multiple times by a crippled Bengals offense. Not only that, the Ravens only have three cornerbacks. They have made no attempts to sign or trade for one and if they don’t sign one, look for the Steelers to spread out the defense and take advantage.
This game is setup to be good, regardless of whether or not it’ll be a shootout. Ravens vs. Steelers always ends up being tough, old fashioned football. Combine that with the fact that the division lead for the AFC North could be on the line for this game and that it’s on Sunday Night Football, you’re looking at what could be one of the best football games of the season.
Will the Ravens sweep or will the Steelers spilt the series? Can one of them take the lead in the North? We’ll find out Sunday night.