Ravens-Steelers Preview

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The Division Rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers has become one of the most intense rivalry in the NFL. This is good old-fashion smash-mouth football. The teams, the cities, the fans, the players, nobody likes anybody. They bleed their team colors and on Sunday night there will definitely be a lot of bleeding. The Steelers are 6-3 and a game behind the Ravens at 7-2. If the Steelers can pull out a win they can be tied with the Ravens with the head-to-head divisional tiebreaker. The Steelers and Ravens will play twice within the next three weeks so each victory will be extremely crucial. The Ravens-Steelers rivalry was currently ranked # 6 on the NFL Film’s Top 10 Rivalries. It may rank 6th all time, but in today’s NFL, it’s easily number one.

Keys to Victory

Running Game: The Steelers get Rashard Mendenhall back from an Achilles injury and will probably share the backfield with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer and play the hot-hand from that point. The Ravens, normally known for having a sound defense is without their defensive leader, Ray Lewis, are ranked just 25th against the run. The Steelers running game has been up and down all season with all three backs fighting injuries of their own and it would please them nothing more than to establish their will against them.

Ray Rice has been up and down against the Steelers the last two years, in 2010 Rice combined for just 52 yards on the ground and 27-yards receiving. But Rice rebounded in 2011 with 150-yards on the ground and 85-yards on 9-receptions. But Rice may go up against a brick wall with his 4.6-yards per carry as the Steelers currently are ranked 6th against the run.

Quarterbacks: With Big Ben out of this game with a shoulder and rib injury the job falls to Byron Leftwich to lead the Steelers past the Ravens. Counting the Chiefs game, Leftwich has played in just two games since 2010. He did not play in 2011 and played in the last game against the Browns in 2010. In the Browns and Chiefs game, he has a combined 117 passing yards. Leftwich’s slow wind-up delivery and shaky offensive line against the Ravens could mean trouble.

Joe Flacco who is having a very productive year has also been very productive against the Steelers the last two years, combining for 1,066 passing yards and six touchdowns to just one interception. Flacco is off his third 300-yard passing performance this season but the Steelers pass defense is ranked first in the league. So we will see what gives Sunday night.

Series: The Steelers lead the Series 18-14 and also lead the Playoff Series 3-0. At Pittsburgh, the Steelers lead the Series 10-6. The Ravens swept the Steelers in 2011 winning 35-7 in Baltimore and 23-20 in Pittsburgh. In the 32 regular season meetings, the outcome was decided by a touchdown or less 17 times.

Game Notes:


- Baltimore has won 11 straight AFC North games, though its last divisional loss came to Pittsburgh on Dec. 5, 2010.

- Ray Rice has 657 rushing yards and 7 TDs on the year but has carried the ball 47 times for 175 yards in the Ravens’ last three games.

- The Ravens completed a season sweep of the Steelers last year with a 23-20 victory at Pittsburgh on Flacco’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with eight seconds to play.


- Pittsburgh is looking to improve to 2-0 while wearing the 1934 throwback uniforms.

- If Pittsburgh holds Baltimore to less than 170 net passing yards it will mark the fifth game in a row and the seventh time this season the Steelers did not allow their opponent to register at least 170 net passing yards.

- If the Steelers win they will be 19-18 all time on Sunday Night Football, including 7-5 at home.

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