Ravens vs. Steelers: one of the NFL’s best rivalries. Their last three games against each other, were decided by three points.
The Ravens are currently the top-dog of the two teams. Baltimore is 3-1 in their last four games against Pittsburgh. They are coming off a Super Bowl victory from last season, and they currently boast the better record.
Nonetheless, the Steelers did win the last match-up against the Ravens. And as Ryan Clark pointed out, they beat the Ravens with Charlie Batch as starting quarterback. The Steelers may be 1-4, but the Ravens aren’t exactly playing great football.
Match-Ups to Watch:
RT Michael Oher vs. OLB LaMarr Woodley
The Steelers and Ravens have had very poor play from their offensive tackles. LaMarr Woodley recorded four sacks through the Steelers’ first 5 games. Woodley looks to be healthy again, and a double-digit sack season is very likely. Michael Oher struggled as a left tackle in 2012, and now, he’s struggling as a right tackle. Oher has given up 12 QB hurries and three sacks, so far in 2013. A big game for Woodley is definitely in the cards.
LT Kelvin Beachum vs. OLB Terrell Suggs
Only the Chiefs’ OLBs Justin Houston and Tamba Hali have combined for more sacks than the Ravens’ duo at the OLB spots. Terrell Suggs will be the man attacking Kelvin Beachum for most of the game. Suggs already has seven sacks in 2013.
The Steelers benched Mike Adams, and so begins the Kelvin Beachum era. Beachum wasn’t awful against the Jets; in fact, he played progressively better as the game continued. Beachum is not faced with an easy task this week.
RT Marcus Gilbert vs. OLB Elvis Dumervil
Elvis Dumervil has recorded five sacks through six games in 2013. He is also Pro Football Focus’s top rated 3-4 outside linebacker. Dumervil was fantastic against the Packers last week. He put Aaron Rodgers in the dirt twice. Marcus Gilbert hasn’t exactly been the poster-boy for success, but he has played decently, at times. Gilbert has allowed four sacks and 12 QB hurries, in five games.
WR Torrey Smith vs. CB Ike Taylor
Ike Taylor isn’t playing as well as he did in 2012, thus far in 2013. But Taylor has owned Torrey Smith. Against Taylor, Smith only caught one pass in 2012. Smith currently has 568 receiving yards. Keeping Smith in check, could very well result in a Steelers victory.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Ravens defense
Roethlisberger has played better as the season has progressed. How will Ben do this week? The Jets missed on a couple of opportunities to keep him in check. The Jets even came up short on a sure safety. Big Ben can take over this game; the Ravens can’t let him.
Steelers’ Keys to Victory:
1. Limit Ray Rice
Ray Rice is off to a mediocre start in 2013. The Steelers must make sure that Rice’s mediocre play continues. The Steelers’ run defense has been suspect at times this season. The Pittsburgh defense can’t continue their trend of missing tackles.
2. Antonio Brown must continue his great play
Antonio Brown is the Steelers’ team MVP through five weeks of play. Has he been perfect? No, absolutely not, but neither has anyone else on the Steelers. Brown has been Roethlisberger’s most reliable target. Brown will make the play, if the ball is thrown in his direction.
Ravens’ Keys to Victory:
1. Ravens defense must force turnovers
I’m looking at you: Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens must create constant pressure off the edge. Make Big Ben very uncomfortable, just as the first four teams he played. The turnovers will come.
2. Joe Flacco must play smart
The Steelers defense just put their first two turnovers of the season on the board last week. Flacco has been careless with the ball, lately.
Ben Roethlisberger throws for three touchdowns and 250 yards.
LaMarr Woodley sacks Flacco twice and forces a fumble.
Troy Polamalu creates a turnover.
Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs combine for three sacks.
Antonio Brown catches two touchdowns.
Joe Flacco throws at least one interception.