Week 16: Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

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Week 16: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday December 27, 2009 1:05 PM
Line: Even

This is it folks. The game for all the playoff marbles. Win and the Ravens have in all likelihood locked up a playoff berth. Lose and they must struggle against Oakland and hope for some help. Beating Pittsburgh at home could be the final stand for this worn and battered Ravens football team.

The Ravens absolutely decimated the Lions and the Bears (as they should). The Steelers are a whole other animal and are going to be coming out hungry and trying like mad to keep alive their playoff hopes. This should be a great battle and should be another storied meeting which adds fuel to the heated rivalry.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s matchup.

RavensGab.com Keys to the Game

Take Ben Down

There is but one cardinal rule to beating Ben Roethlisberger, and that is take his ass to the ground. If you try to arm tackle him, if you try to grab him around the legs, he is going to torch you for a big gain, if not a touchdown. Roethlisberger is a gamer through and through with one of the strongest centers of gravity in football.

If the ravens have any hope of winning this game they must wrap Roethlisberger up around the arms and tackle him to the ground. Do not let him keep plays alive or exploit our injury plagued secondary.

Hound Max Starks

Take a moment and look back at the game film from the Steelers’ last game against the Packers. What’s the one thing you notice more than anything else? Time in and time out, the Packers absolutely decimated Max Starks. They lined up against him and ran right over him all game long. He is clearly the weakest link on the Pittsburgh line, and he must be exploited.

Run right over him, get to Ben and the game will be a cake walk. Hopefully the powers that be will recognize the chink in the armor and come all out against it.

Account for the Weather (Again)

For the third straight week in Ravens football, it’s going to be cold, it’s going to be windy, and yes, it’s going to be snowing. Plan accordingly. Although Joe and Ben both threw for phenomenal numbers last week, I would not expect a repeat from either strong young quarterback. This needs to be a smash mouth, ground and pound type of AFC North Battle.

Eliminate Turnovers

The last two weeks the Ravens have done a great job at protecting the football and holding onto possession. This week against Pittsburgh, those lessons must be carried over into what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the year. The Ravens cannot beat themselves by handing Pittsburgh the ball on costly turnovers.

Winning starts here.

Contain the Wide Receivers

To win this game the Ravens cannot allow big plays from Ben to Hines Ward, or Ben to Mike Wallace. They have got to force the Steelers to run the ball which will play into the hands of Ravens defense. Keep the ball on the ground and out of the air, and the Steelers won’t have much opportunity to torch the team for points. This happens by playing solid coverage in the secondary. We al know how injured everyone is, but playing like a Raven means stepping up and getting it done. Next man up.

Minimize the Penalties

To win this game the Ravens must eliminate the stupid penalties which have been hounding them all season. They can’t shoot themselves in the foot against good teams like Pittsburgh. Sound flawless football is what is needed to win this game.

Just Win

The message for the rest of the season is just win. Don’t be focused on anything else but getting the W and moving forward. The talking heads talk about identity, and when you’re losing you have no identity. When a team wins you never hear people talk about identity. The Ravens must simply win to get through this tough spot. Win and your in.

RavensGab.com Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs

I want to be the biggest cheerleader here, I really do, but something about this game doesn’t seem right. The Ravens are extremely banged up, they’ve been playing lesser opponents, and Pittsburgh needs the win more. Nothing about this combination makes me confident the Ravens can pull out a victory.

Ravens 21 — Steelers 24 (OT)

Matt Jergensen

This game will be yet another brutal chapter in this AFC North rivalry. It will be ugly and casualties will be high on both sides. And that’s the problem with those types of games, it only takes one play to make the difference to gain a win. Therefore the media and fans from both sides are apprehensive about coming away with a victory and I’m right there with them. To me, THE key is the play of Joe Flacco. Sorry to put it all on your shoulders Joe but if he is effective in the Red Zone and limits turnovers the Ravens will move one step closer to the playoffs. A Cundiff Field Goal for the win.

Ravens 20 – Steelers 17

Gene Winner

The battle is on! The secondary on each team has injuries to their star safeties and at times both units have struggled.

The offense must be determined to protect Flacco and they need aggressive play calling–throwing the ball downfield. The Defense has to limit the big passing plays and get pressure on Roethlisberger.

This would be a tremendous win for the team and for Coach Harbaugh’s tenure.
As Ray Lewis says, “Here we go.”

Ravens 26 – Steelers 20

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