The Ravens start preparing for a tough Monday Night Football game in Pittsburgh on November 5th. The Steelers lead the AFC North with a 5-2 record, while the Ravens have fallen behind the Browns and now sit in third place at 4-3. This is a statement game for the Ravens, as another division loss will put them at .500 for the season, two games behind Pittsburgh and even worse, 0-3 in the division. On the other hand, an upset victory over the Steelers in their home crib will vault the previously underachieving Ravens into a first place tie and with home games coming up against the Bengals and Browns, respectively, would put them in a position to claim first place in the AFC North as their own.
Winning on the road in the NFL is tough enough. Winning on the road on Monday Night Football is even tougher, as an underdog, no less. For all of us Ravens fans, unlike other fans, we loathe the national TV games. The Ravens rarely win these nationwide audience games, as they always seem to play their worst in front of the entire country. What usually happens is the Ravens turn the ball over multiple times, yet find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the last minute, ripping our hearts out at the same time. The Monday Night game at Cincinnati was a perfect example of the Ravens ineptitude on national TV. Of course, the Bengals have Ravens Coach Brian Billick to thank as much as the Ravens give-a-ways that night. Unless Billick has come face-to-face with his demons regarding his deplorable playcalling, it figures to be a tough night for Baltimore.
Pittsburgh will be stoked to be hosting the nation and I'm sure they'll have an emotional reunion with some of their past heros (Hint: Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, etc.) on the field for a pre-game celebration. The Steelers are a much better team at home, and the Ravens have just one unimpressive win on the raod all season. However, stranger things have happened and although this is Monday, don't they say, "...any given Sunday?" Besides, the Ravens have beaten the Steelers three staight times going back to the 2005 season finale, including two Baltimore Beatdowns last season.
Until Monday night, we will disect this game from all angles (offense, defense, special teams, coaching) and come up with the reasons that the Ravens might actually win this game.