12/10 17 Steelers Pregame
Ravens head into the steel curtain to take on the division leader Pittsburgh Steelers. Steeler’s week is always a big week in Charm City and this week should be no exception. The Steelers are coming off a very physical game with the Bengals where they lost their star linebacker Ryan Shazier to a spine injury. To add insult to injury, the Steelers will also lose JuJu Smith-Schuster Sunday to a one game suspension from a hit he leveled on Vontaze Burfict that pasted him to the ground and forced him out of the game. If you watched that game you would have also seen the vicious hit that Burfict laid on Antonio Brown’s head that left Brown sprawling to the ground apparently unconscious as he made no attempt to break his fall to the ground. How Brown got through the concussion protocol to return in that game is nothing short of astonishing – and if you don’t believe me just take look at the hit yourself. On a short week the Steelers will be challenged to heal and recharge before facing the Ravens Sunday night. Rest assured though Coach Tomlin will have them fired up to play for their defensive leader Shazier – and will ask them to play all out for him – and they will. Shazier has already sent a message to his team from his hospitable bed – Beat the Ravens! Both teams play well under the bright lights of the national spot light so this contest should be as good as advertised.
In the first meeting on October 1st in Baltimore – the Steelers manhandled the Ravens beating them 26 to 9, and the Steelers gashed the Ravens defense for 179 rushing yards. Le’Veon Bell had a banner day racking up 144 yards on 35 carries. Things should be different this go round however as the Ravens have Williams back on the field along with the emerging Willie Henry who has worked himself into the front four rotation. Bell will undoubtedly get his yards but I would be surprised to see him get much more than 105. I am more concerned with Bell racking up big yards on screens and shovel passes. Oddly enough the Ravens held Antonio Brown to just 4 receptions for 34 yards, but that was when Jimmy Smith was on the field and I would expect Brown to more than double that production this Sunday. Ben is going to target Humphrey much of the night so Pees will have to give him some help over the top. The Steelers would like nothing more than to sweep the season series with the Ravens which would keep them in the hunt for home field advantage as they look ahead to the playoffs and a likely show down with the Patriots. The Ravens too want this game to keep their winning streak alive and to maintain their wild card spot but if they lose this one to the Steelers they should still be able to get to the playoffs.
Two weeks ago when I made my predictions for the remaining games I said the Steelers would hold court at home and beat the Ravens on Sunday night. I will stay with prediction because I think the Steelers have too many offensive weapons for the Ravens to contain and to deal with. That said, I think Sunday’s game will be close and it would not shock me if the Ravens beat them. Coach Pees and Coach Mornhinweg will need superior game plans to beat the Steelers and I am looking forward to seeing how they manage this game. Here’s why I like the Steelers in this game – 1) They are tough to beat at home 2) Steelers are 2nd in the league in sacks and they will get to Joe and rattle his cage 3) The tandem of Brown and Bell are the best receiver/rusher combo in the league and we can’t match them in those skill positions 4) Steelers generate almost 100 yards more per game on offense. The Ravens strength this year has been generating turnovers and they lead the league at plus 14 – and therein lies the kryptonite for the Steelers. If the Ravens can find a way to go plus 2 or plus 3 on Sunday’s game then they have a very good chance of steeling one in Pittsburgh. The Steelers know this and will work hard to protect the ball. When the week started the betting line on the Ravens/Steelers game was Steelers by 7 ½ points, today that number sits at 5 which shows you things are getting tighter as the game gets closer. I expect the Ravens to cover as this is likely to be decided by 3 or less. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.
Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Baltimore Ravens – Sunday, December 10th @ 8:30 PM Odds – Steelers by 5
|Net Rushing Yardage||Ravens||94||Steelers||110|
|Net Passing Yardage||Ravens||192||Steelers||242|
- Flacco is sacked 3 times
- Le’Veon Bell carries for 31 times for 105 yards (3.4 per carry)
- Ravens have at least one trick play on special teams
- Refs make terrible calls
Possible Monday morning headlines
- Steeler’s Win in final seconds on Boswell’s field goal
Keys to the Game
- Offensive balance with a 3rd down conversion rate > than 38%
- Contain Bell, Bryant and Brown
- Protect the rock and force some turnovers