Ravens at Steelers Preview

Sports and Bets — November 2, 2014 at 5:12 am by

The Ravens (5-3) are facing the hated Steelers (5-3) in a pivotal Sunday night showdown. Last week, the Ravens had a chance to take the driver’s seat in the AFC North. This week, a loss to Pittsburgh could bump the Ravens to dead last in the division. Football is one fickle mistress. The Ravens beat the piss out of Pittsburgh back in Week 2, 26-6, but I highly doubt that either team will be victorious by such a comfortable margin this time around. This game has the feel of a classic Ravens/Steelers nail-biter with the winner being decided on the final possession. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like the great Buck Showalter says, “I like our guys.”

USP NFL: PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS S FBN USA MD

2014 Stats (per game)
Points – Baltimore: 27.1, Pittsburgh: 25.6
Points Allowed – Baltimore: 16.4, Pittsburgh: 24.5
Passing Yards – Baltimore: 247.1, Pittsburgh: 291.1
Rushing Yards – Baltimore: 128.4, Pittsburgh: 127.1
Passing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 256.0, Pittsburgh: 250.1
Rushing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 90.4, Pittsburgh: 107.8
Turnover Differential – Baltimore: plus 0.38, Pittsburgh: plus 0.13

Ravens Injury Report
WR Michael Campanaro – Out (Thigh)
DL Chris Canty – Questionable (Wrist)
TE Owen Daniels – Questionable (Knee)
CB Jimmy Smith – Out (Foot)
G/T Marshal Yanda – Questionable (Knee)

Steelers Injury Report
CB Ike Taylor – Out (Forearm)
S Ross Ventrone – Out (Hamstring)

Ravens’ Offense vs. Steelers’ Defense
When these two teams met back in Week 2, the Ravens were able to dominate the Steelers in the trenches. The Ravens ran the ball 36 times for 157 yards, and Joe Flacco wasn’t sacked or even hit during his 29 pass attempts. It’s unlikely that the Ravens will be able to repeat such an impressive showing, but this Steelers defense is a very average unit. Pittsburgh’s defense is 16th in total yards per game, 21st in points per game, and tied for 23rd in sacks. They’ve also been vulnerable to the big play, giving up 40 plays of 20 or more yards, which is the 2nd most in the NFL (Mink).

The offensive line should be able to open up holes for Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Steve Smith Sr. and Torrey Smith should be able to find room against a hobbled and leaky secondary. My biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball is the play of Flacco. The questionable pass interference call on Smith Sr. took a lot of attention away from just how shitty Flacco played last week. The Ravens had a chance to take the division by the balls and Flacco laid a total egg. He completed 17-34 passes for 195 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 awful picks to start the second half that lead to 10 easy points for the Bengals. Sadly, this horrid display was very typical of how Flacco has played on the road over the last year and a half. In Flacco’s last 12 road games, he’s gone 4-8 with 15 TDs and 18 INTs while throwing for 247.7 yards per game. In his last 12 home games, Flacco has gone 9-3 with 18 TDs and 11 INTs while throwing for 249.1 yards per game. There’s no better time than now for Flacco to rediscover that ice water in his veins that lead to so many big road wins over his career.

torrey3

Ravens’ Defense vs. Steelers’ Offense
The Steelers might have the best 1-2 punch in the league when it comes to the running back and wide receiver positions. Le’Veon Bell is 3rd in the NFL with 691 rushing yards, and 2nd in all-purpose yards with 1,086. Bell has been consistently excellent this season, surpassing 100 total yards in all eight games. Speaking of amazing consistency, Antonio Brown has had at least five catches for at least 50 yards in 24 straight games. Brown is 1st in the league with 60 catches, 2nd with 852 receiving yards, and tied for 2nd with 7 receiving TDs. An X-factor for the Pittsburgh offense could be rookie WR Martavis Bryant. Bryant missed the first six games of the season with a shoulder injury, but he’s wasted no time making an impact since returning to action. Over two games, Bryant has seven catches for 123 yards and three TDs.

Not only is Pittsburgh loaded with weapons, but Ben Roethlisberger just came off one of the greatest quarterbacking performances in the history of the NFL. He threw for an astounding 522 yards and six TDs in last week’s win over the Colts. While the Pittsburgh offense appears to be firing on all cylinders, an injury to Jimmy Smith has hampered an already thin Ravens secondary. For the Ravens to keep Pittsburgh from lighting up the scoreboard, their front seven is going to have to play their asses off. They’ll need to keep Bell at bay while steadily harassing Roethlisberger to help prevent their weak secondary from being exposed. C.J. Mosley, Haloti Ngata, and Elvis Dumervil all made key plays against Pittsburgh in Week 2, and the Ravens are going to need another strong effort from them tonight. Terrell Suggs didn’t do much in the first matchup, but he’s recorded sacks in each of his last three games, and he’s had Roethlisberger’s number over his career. Suggs has sacked Roethlisberger more than any other defender in football, bringing down that goofy bastard 16.5 times (Brown & Hensley).

suggs

Rapid Fire Facts

  • The Ravens are 3-2 in their last five games at Pittsburgh.
  • Flacco is 22nd in the league with a quarterback rating of 84.8 when using play action. He’s completed only 59.2% of those passes (Mink).
  • Flacco is 3-5 at Pittsburgh. His three wins at Heinz Field are tied with Carson Palmer for the most of any quarterback (Hensley).
  • Roethlisberger went 7-2 in his first nine starts against the Ravens, but is just 1-4 in his last five games against them (Brown & Hensley).
  • The Ravens have sacked Roethlisberger 10 times over their last five games against him. (Brown & Hensley).

Let’s go Ravens!

cover pic: Larry Brown Sports
Mosley pic: For The Win
Torrey Smith pic: Trib Live
Suggs pic: Zimbio

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