Week 13: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)@ Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
AT: M&T Bank Stadium, 4:25 PM
The Ravens are back home after an incredible comeback in San Diego with the help of Ray Rice’s herculean effort to convert a 4th and 29. The Steelers on the other hand are still without QB Big Ben (rib injury) and last week they turned the ball over 8 times on offense losing to the Cleveland Browns. Still, the Steelers defense is playing at a high level ranking 1st against the pass and 5th against the run. If QB Ben Roethlisberger is back in the line-up the Ravens will have their hands full. Recently reported, there is a chance Roethlisberger will play, but Batch is the likely starter.
Baltimore is in position to sweep Pittsburgh as they did last year and there is a possibly the team could clinch the AFC North if Cincinnati loses to (ironically) San Diego.
CHALK IT UP/KEY MATCH-UPS:
Ravens O-line vs. Steelers OLB’s:
Major importance keeping Flacco upright and getting lanes open for the run game for this second meeting. In the first match-up the Ravens offensive line had big issues dealing with outside pressure and opening up running lanes. It was not a good sign that the Ravens offensive line gave up 5 sacks to San Diego. RT Kelechi Osemele (KO) vs. OLB LaMarr Woodley (questionable). The rookie RT Osemele, who has had a fine rookie campaign has had struggles of late (a bit of a slump). KO had a tough time in the first match-up in Pittsburgh and then last week protecting the edge from OLB Shaun Phillips. The Ravens offensive line has given up 26 sacks (tied for 8th most in the NFL).
Ray Rice vs. Steelers Run D:
Go back to the first match-up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers front seven totally dominated the Ravens run game. Improvements must be made. Rice finsihed with 40 yards–Pittsburgh spied Rice the whole game. This game Cam Cameron would be smart to get Rice going early and often. The Steelers rank 5th versus the run because they have great linebackers and strong front. The way to neutralize the Steelers front is perhaps to spread things out and give Rice opportunities in single back formation. Or, work more from the shotgun as the offense did in the fourth quarter in San Diego.
Ravens CB’s vs Steelers WR’s:
Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders pose a huge threat. CB Corey Graham has been the biggest surprise he’s steeped up his game, –and both he and Cary Williams will have to do so again in this contest. WR Antonio Brown might be back on the field after missing three games with an ankle injury. Sanders and tight end Heath Miller were Charlie Batch’s favorite targets in Cleveland. Sanders finished with 5 rec. for 75 yards and Miller finished with 6 rec., for 63 yard.
Ravens D-line vs. Steelers O-line:
Much like the Ravens, the Steelers offensive line has been playing poorly. Pittsburgh’s Offensive line has been devastated by injuries. Last week in Cleveland the team lost Rookie RT Mike Adams and inserted rookie Kelvin Beachum in the line. Paul Kruger has 5.5 sacks and with Suggs back in the mix, the pass rush has excelled. Last week in San Diego, the team finished with 6 total sacks. Kruger gave RT Mike Adams problems in the first game. Adams is likely out (ankle) which would mean a rookie right tackle Beachum would start.