By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will match up against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Here’s the scouting report.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ record: (6-3-0) 2nd place in AFC North
When the Steelers’ offense has the ball, the focus is usually centered on Ben Roethlisberger. His uncanny ability to convert on third downs is second to none in the NFL. His ability to escape pass rushes with simple shrugs in the pocket can frustrate a defense on any given Sunday. With Big Ben out with a shoulder and rib injury, this offense is very different. Taking the place of Ben, Byron Leftwich is a different type of quarterback. The former Jaguars quarterback makes a living on making throws inside the pocket. With an offensive line that has struggled the past few seasons, this could spell trouble for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers realize that their offensive line has struggled. To counter this problem, expect Pittsburgh to focus on the running game. With Rashard Mendenhall set to return, the Steelers will look to control the tempo with a heavy dose of the run. Baltimore has struggled to stop the run most of the season season. The Ravens have improved in stopping the run recently. If they continue this trend in Pittsburgh, the Steelers may take advantage of a banged up secondary. The loss of Jimmy Smith severely limits the productivity of the Ravens.
This match-up will feature one of the best offenses in the league against one of the best defenses. Pittsburgh will not change their approach in this game. In past meetings, the Steelers have tried to throw off the rhythm of Baltimore’s offense with consistent pressure on Flacco. The Ravens have done a good job recently of containing the blitz. As a result of this, Baltimore has won 3 of the last 4 meetings. If Pittsburgh can get pressure on the quarterback, it can continue a trend of poor play on the road for Baltimore. If they can’t, Torrey Smith and the rest of the receiving corps will make them pay.
Cam Cameron has bucked this trend recently, but still has a reputation of giving up on the run in road games. That can’t be the case in this one. One of the best ways to keep Flacco upright is to keep the defense honest. Ray Rice has to get involved in order to keep the Steelers pass rushers on their heels. The Steelers want Flacco to throw the ball 50 times in this game. If they do, the Steelers will win this game. If the Ravens can get a good balance of run and pass, Pittsburgh will most likely fall short.
This game will feature two of the best coaches in the NFL. The games between these two coaches are always fun to watch because you can always expect to get quality football from both squads. Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh are dead even against each other All-Time with a record of (4-4). Pittsburgh leads the All-Time series 21-14.
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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.