By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will battle the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football as the greatest rivalry in the NFL takes center stage. The rivalry may have taken a huge hit as Ben Roethlisberger suffered a shoulder strain against Kansas City last Sunday. Mike Tomlin characterized Big Ben’s status as “questionable” for Sunday and gave no further details on the severity of his injury. This is a huge loss for Pittsburgh.
Much like Baltimore, Pittsburgh has played with a banged up unit most of the season. Troy Polamalu is still battling a calf injury that has kept him sidelined. The defense, while still pretty good, has lost a step. And the offensive line of the Steelers has been decent at best. Simply put, the fate of the franchise rests on the shoulders of Big Ben. And with one of those shoulders being severely injured, it’s difficult to envision this team being competitive on Sunday.
The Steelers will start Byron Leftwich with Ben unable to play. Leftwich is a statue in the pocket with a slow throwing motion. If Baltimore is able to get pressure on the quarterback, it could make for an interesting night for the Ravens.
One thing that the Steelers are keenly aware of is the inconsistency of Baltimore on the road. Particular as it relates to Joe Flacco.
“He plays better at home than he does on the road,” said Tomlin on Tuesday.
That wasn’t necessarily a low blow on the Ravens. He was just stating facts based on the way Joe has performed so far. That’ll have to change against a Steelers team that is more than capable of forcing turnovers. Baltimore will have an interesting dilemma on their hands as they begin to game-plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The secondary of Pittsburgh seems to be their weakness, whereas their run defense is still one of the best in football. If Cam Cameron notices that Baltimore isn’t getting anything on the ground, he may abandon the run all together. That course of action could mean trouble for the Ravens.
When these two teams meet up, it is usually for the division lead. This game will be no different. If Baltimore pulls out the victory, they will have a 2 game lead over Pittsburgh with 6 games to play. If Pittsburgh somehow manages to upset Baltimore, then the two teams will be tied for the division lead. There will be playoff implications surrounding both teams heading into Sunday’s game. Baltimore wants home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. To get it done, they’ll have to beat Pittsburgh.
It’s Ravens/Steelers week. Let the fun begin!
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.