Keys to the Game: Pittsburgh @ Baltimore

Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens

Sunday December 2, 2012 4:25 PM

Line: Ravens -8 O/U 48

 

Do you think we Ravens fans have become spoiled brats? Do we now demand Dom Perinon instead of Natty Boh? Beluga Caviar to Roma Sausages? In 2007 I have no doubt that many Ravens fans would have sold their first born for a 9-2 record. After all, the Ravens had posted an abysmal record in 2006, had fired their coach, and were starting a third-string rookie quarterback named Joe Flacco….from Delaware… There was no gnashing of teeth when the Ravens won ugly. It only mattered that they won. Now? The Ravens squeak out a last second Hail Mary win and all of a sudden the Baltimore Blue Bloods are knocking down the door armed with torches and pitchforks… Will the Ravens decimate the Steelers and satisfy the masses, or will the ennui continue regardless? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.

 

Baltimore Gridiron Report Keys to the Game

1st and Ten: Max Protect

Despite the fact that they are the Evil Empire, despite the fact that their players likely murder nuns and kick small puppies for sport, the Pittsburgh Steelers are exceptionally good at one thing: rising to the occasion. This goes double true for the defense. Look back two weeks to the showdown in Pittsburgh and you will see a motivated and disruptive force who is anxious to prove that they are down but not out.

Even without Lamaar Woodley, the Steelers defense has the potential to be lethal, therefore the Ravens have got to focus on shoring up the offensive line to protect Joe and give him time to work his magic. They are going to a wave of pressure at this line. It must stand and force them to break upon the shore.

2nd and Long: No Huddle

It may not work on the road, but hot jumping Jeebus does it work at home.  If the Ravens have any inkling of making this game a blowout (which they are more than capable of doing, i.e. game one of last season) they will need to start hot with the no huddle and bring the pressure to move the ball and tire out the Steelers.

Additionally, keeping their base defense on the field will rob Dick Lebeau of his ability to create mismatches and be creative with his schemes.

3rd and Short: Stop the Run. Period

If the Ravens have one part of their game plan highlighted, underlined, italicized, bolded, and circled in red sharpie, it’s that they have to stop the run. The Steelers are going to legitimately be forced to run the ball for the majority of this game, and it’s up to the Ravens to stop them at each attempt.

Jonathan Dwyer is getting the nod as starter, which means a lot of interior power runs. Jameel McClain and company will have to bring their best pressure up the gut to bring him down. Think about it. If the Ravens stop the run, that forces Charlie Batch to sit in the pocket and throw. Look how that turned out last week.

4th Down: Find Your Center

If I have one major complaint about the Ravens offensive game plan this season it’s that they don’t ever seem to explore and exploit the middle of the field. With speed runners like Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones patrolling the edges, this should in theory open up the middle of the field for Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta and Tandon Doss. That said, Cam insists on curl routes, corner throws and over the shoulder targets.

Explore the middle of the field, there’s some fertile earth just waiting to be tilled. Who knows what kind of success you may be able to find.

Extra Point: No Mercy

The Ravens have got to come out guns blazing and keep firing until the final whistle blows. There should be no concern about running up the score, there should only be a desire to just keep hammering and hammering and hammering. This game is the division. Win with some help and the Ravens clinch, win with no help they make the playoffs for the 5th straight season with the chance to clinch in each of the remaining four weeks. It’s not the Alamo but it would certainly be nice to know that from here on out you’re only playing for homefield.

BGR Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs (8-3)

I think the Ravens win this game is a walk after halftime. I think there’s a chance it could be another nail biter, but in the end I think Charlie Batch and company will fall apart under the collective weight of mounting injuries.

Ravens 27 — Steelers 13

Matt Jergensen (9-2)

Will Cam Cameron be in attack mode at home or will he employ the similar conservative gameplan we saw in Pittsburgh? As always it’s about ball security and taking advantage of opportunities when playing the hated Steelers. Their offense is in disarray so the Ravens should load up the box and force Batch to make accurate throws to move the chains. The home win streak should stay intact.

Ravens 21 – Steelers 13

Gene Winner (10-1)

I don’t care who’s playing or who’s not, when these teams meet it is always close.  I do like the way the Ravens defense is playing and at home against a struggling Steelers offense they should carry the day.

Ravens 23 – Steelers 13

Ben Zinman (10-1)

Flacco is playing at home and the Steelers do not play with the same intensity when Ben is not under center. It will be close until halftime then the Ravens will take off.

Ravens 31 – Steelers 17

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