On paper, a 1-4 team and a 3-3 team going up against each other doesn’t seem all that exciting, but when it’s the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, oh boy, get ready for a slugfest. The Steelers were able to secure their first win last week versus the New York Jets, something many Raven fans were sad to see, or at least just me. The Ravens, on the other hand, dropped the ball, literally, against the Green Bay Packers without their major weapons and victory well within reach. Here’s what to look for during the first Ravens-Steelers game this season:
T-Sizzle Vs. Big Ben
I honestly can’t think of any other linebacker-quarterback rivalry that’s as verbal as this one, with most of the jawing coming from Terrell Suggs, normally. Suggs has sacked Roethlisberger 15.5 times in his career, the most by any defender Roethlisberger has faced Granted, most of his sacked came against former Steelers tackles Jonathan Scott and Max Starks, who weren’t much more than turnstiles to Suggs, but a significant accomplishment none the less. New Steeler Tackle Kelvin Beachum, who is replacing Levi Brown, after he was placed on injured reserve, will be lining up for his first time against the Pro Bowl Linebacker. Whether or not Beachum will pose a challenge to Suggs has yet to be seen, so I’ll guess we’ll see if Roethlisberger’s “ass belongs” to the pass rusher.
Torrey Smith Vs. Ike Taylor
Ike Taylor is probably one of the most underrated Cornerbacks in the league, and over the past four games against the Steelers, he has held wide receiver Torrey Smith to just 9 receptions, 111 yards and one touchdown. Taylor is an old school corner, using his physicality to slow receivers down at the line of scrimmage, something that is the kryptonite to smaller, faster receiver like Smith. Smith is also coming off a horrible game against the Packers, catching 1 pass for 12 yards after catching at least 8 passes and gaining 80 yards in his previous 4 games, Needless to say I’ll be an interesting match-up, not just because of the smack talk those two participate in, but because Smith has only had one good game in his career against Taylor, 5 catches for 71 yards and the game-winning touchdown in his rookie season, and Smith has stepped up big this season and has become one of the league’s most dominant receivers.
Ravens’ Struggling Run Game Vs. Not-So Dominant Steelers’ D
It’s common knowledge that the Ravens’ run game has been atrocious so far this season, seventh least rushing yards in the league and tied for league worst with 2.7 yards per carry. I also think some have noticed the Steelers front seven hasn’t been as dominant this as it has been in past years, giving up the tenth worst total rushing yards per game with 114.8 and are in the bottom ten on rushing touchdown given up with 6. With that being said, most would consider the Ravens’ run game dead-on-arrival considering they haven’t hit their stride all season, but head coach John Harbaugh has stated that changes would come to the Ravens’ running strategy, and it’ll be interesting if it actually works out.
Lardarius Webb Vs. Antonio Brown
Last week, Webb had arguably his worst game of the season so far, giving up a 64-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Webb has bounced back from and ACL tear he suffered a year ago very nicely, and continues to show his dominance. Antonio Brown has been one of the best receivers in the league so far this season, compiling 41 receptions, third most in the NFL, 498 yards, 2 touchdowns, only 1 drop, and averages almost 100 yards a game. Brown is quite the weapon for any Cornerback to contain, so he should prove to be quite the challenge for Webb. The reason I also find this match-up interesting is that both Brown and Webb haven’t faced each other since 2011, the last season both played completely healthy. Regardless, this is the key match-up to watch and may determine the Steelers success to pass against the Ravens.