There Is No Better Time Than Now For The Ravens To Beat A Quality Team On The Road.

Featured, Sports and Bets — October 30, 2014 at 7:03 am by

It’s here: Steeler Week.  This particular game has suddenly taken on a new sense of urgency as the Ravens find themselves fighting for their AFC North division lives.  Last Saturday, the Ravens were rolling through the NFL and seemed all set to get revenge on a struggling Bengals squad for a tough Week One loss.  Meanwhile, the Steelers, who had previously lost at home to the likes of Tampa Bay, were looking to get trounced by Andrew Luck and the second best team in the AFC.

Not quite, babes. The Ravens turned the ball over twice and then got ref-screwed to take a Week One cookie cutter loss up in Cincy.  The Steelers then slaughtered the Colts up at Heinz field, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for a gazillion yards against what was supposed to be a good defense.  The two games spun the AFC North on its axis.  The Bengals took back first place from the Ravens, and the Steelers put themselves in position to take over second place this week with a second straight home victory. Sandwiched in between the two teams are the Ravens, and they are that team that is going to Pittsburgh this week.  The stakes are high; the Ravens could have really put themselves in the AFC North driver’s seat with a win last week, but now they are on their way to Pittsburgh for a game that means so much more today than it did before they strapped on the helmets last week.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that the Ravens are a better team than the Steelers, but that means exactly zero.  These games are always close no matter who is playing. This rivalry seems to see no talent.  The Ravens have lost to a Charlie Batch led squad for shit’s sake, and the Ravens have beaten the Steelers when shouldn’t have.  Lately, the Ravens have been more talented overall and they have enjoyed plenty of success against Pittsburgh, winning the last two meetings, and five out of the last seven. The Ravens have also had success at Heinz field, going 3-2 in their last five trips to Pittsburgh.  And Joe Flacco has been Joe Cool in Western Pennsylvania.  In 2010 and 2011, Flacco led last minute drives to win games up at Heinz field.  The Ravens are obviously not intimidated travelling up to the confluences.

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And that’s good to know.  But this season the Ravens haven’t played well on the road against quality teams and suddenly, after Pittsburgh thumped the Colts and loudly announced that they are improving, the Ravens face a quality opponent in the Steelers. Baltimore destroyed Pittsburgh in Week Two, but the two teams suddenly look quite different.  Pittsburgh O-line played their best game of the season last week and the emergence of rookie wide-out Martavis Bryant has given Roethlisberger another reliable outside target opposite Antonio Brown.  The Steelers’ defense, while not exactly great, has forced turnovers over the past two weeks and come up big when it has mattered most.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are banged up where it may matter most against a red hot quarterback- in the secondary.  Jimmy Smith is the best corner on the team and his foot injury will cause him to miss a few weeks.  Shitty timing.  Also, Will Hill, who was supposed to be the savior at safety, actually played less snaps last week than he did two weeks ago in his debut.  There were rumblings that was because the Ravens played more zone last week against Cincy than they did against the Falcons and Hill wasn’t familiar enough with the defense to get more snaps.  That seems ridiculous.  But hopefully Hill has learned the defense well enough to play more Sunday, because he is probably our most talented safety and because the Steelers shredded the Colts and their heavily man-t0-man schemes.  With Jimmy Smith out the Ravens will probably have to play a lot of zone, and it would be nice if Hill could get on the field for the zone party.  (With Hill out there does Sanu make that 53-yard catch last week?)

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Plus, Justin Forsett has an ankle injury and missed practice on Wednesday, but he says he’ll play Sunday.  We’ll see.

Meanwhile, on the plus injury side for the Ravens Owen Daniels apparently practiced on Wednesday after supposedly getting his knee scoped on Friday.  This seems crazy and frankly, I don’t believe that he got scoped.  But either way having him back is great news.

The other great news is that despite all the things pointing toward a Steeler victory, the Ravens are going to win this game.  Joe Flacco doesn’t give a damn where this game is played, he’s as comfortable at Heinz Field in November as I am at table full of steamed crabs on a warm summer’s day.  Joe will be able to thrown on this secondary, the Ravens O-line matches up well against the Pittsburgh defensive front and they will keep Flacco clean.  Last week the Steelers pressured Luck, they won’t pressure number 5. The Ravens will also be able to run the ball on Pittsburgh and Gary Kubiak will stick with it this week.  Even if Forsett sits, Beast-Lo and Bernard Pierce are more than capable of carrying the load.

On defense, look for the Ravens to play zone and rely on their defensive lineman and hybrid linebackers to get pressure without much blitzing.  It will be a return to the bend but don’t beak approach- but that will hopefully take away the deep ball that was so effective for Pittsburgh last week.  The Steelers sure as shit won’t put anything close to 51 points up on the Ravens.  Hell, in Week Two they put up 6.

Which brings up my last point.  Sure, things have changed over the last few weeks, but the principal players on both sides haven’t. The Ravens dominated the Steelers a few weeks ago.  They may not dominate up in P-Burgh, but the Ravens are still the better team.  It will be closer than last time but it’ll still be a Ravens’ win. 27-20.

It’s time to beat a quality team on the road.

 

cover pic: baltimoresportsandlife

 

 

 

 

 

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