By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will match up against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Here’s the scouting report.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ record: (6-5-0) Tied for 2nd place in the AFC North
The dynamic of this offense changes significantly with the status of one player. If Ben Roethlisberger does suit up, the Steelers can play a more balanced style of offense that can keep Baltimore’s defense on its heels. If Charlie Batch plays, Pittsburgh will attempt to protect Batch’s deficiencies with a multitude of run plays. With Ben unlikely to play this week, it’ll probably be Batch’s game to lose on Sunday. And there’s a very good chance of that happening against a defense that has suddenly found its groove. Look for Pittsburgh to test the Ravens run defense as it has had problems stopping it in the past.
The offense of Pittsburgh should be focused on keeping the high-octane offense of Baltimore off the field. They should also try their best to limit 3rd-and-long situations. Ben Roethlisberger was superb on 3rd down, but Batch had problems against Cleveland last week. At times, it appeared as though Batch didn’t have a strong enough arm to get the ball where it needed to be. Having that kind of trouble against Baltimore could spell disaster for the black and gold.
Defensively, Pittsburgh will most likely be without LaMarr Woodley. He is dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice all week. In return, the Steelers will most likely get the services of Troy Polamalu. His return couldn’t come at a better time against an offense as potent as Baltimore. At home, the Ravens offense can be downright scary. It’ll be up to the Steelers defense to keep this game as close as possible. But if Baltimore gets on a role the way they have most of the year, it’ll be lights out for Pittsburgh. Expect the Ravens to spread the offense out to keep Polamalu away from the line of scrimmage.
If Pittsburgh does get pressure on Joe, they’ll have to account for Rice as well. The already-legendary 4th-and-29 conversion has to be in the head of every defense in the NFL going forward. Give Rice space and he’ll make you pay. The dual threat running back remains the focal point for the Steelers heading into this game. Stop Rice and you’ll have a good chance to win. If he gets going, Flacco will make them pay. The Ravens offense can beat you in a plethora of ways.
The Ravens have gotten the better of Mike Tomlin over the past couple of years. Baltimore has won three straight against the Steelers leading up to this match up. Harbaugh holds a 5-4 overall record against Mike Tomlin as two of the brightest head coaches in the NFL go head-to-head on Sunday. The Steelers own the All-Time record over the Ravens 21-15.
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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.