Ravens-Steelers: Position Comparison

We did this similar comparison last week for the Ravens-Titans game and it evoked some interesting comments. Therefore, let's go unit-by-unit to see how the Ravens and Steelers match up for the AFC Championship Game.

OFFENSE:

QB: If we were comparing the Ravens rookie, Joe Flacco, to the rookie Ben Roethlisberger, this would be a great debate on whom you'd take. But to try to justify the wonderful rookie season that Flacco has had, to the veteran SB Champion QB , Roethlisberger, is just not worth it, regardless of either QB's success or issues this season. Advantage: Steelers

RB: The Ravens have used three RB's with varying degrees of success, but mostly relied on the bruising Le'Ron McClain and normally consistent Willis McGahee. Meanwhile, Willie Parker is the main Steelers threat with various other RB's used in specific conditions or due to Parker's injuries. That said, the Ravens backs have had better seasons and Parker just hasn't had any success against the Ravens in his career. Advantage: Ravens

WR: You would have a good argument if you took any side in the comparisons between taking the combination of the Ravens' Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton vs. the Steelers Hines Ward/Santonio Holmes. Both teams wideouts have solid possession receivers as well as big play potential. However, when you add the third option of the Steelers' Nate Washington, the Ravens don't have an answer to that. Advantage: Steelers

TE: The Ravens Todd Heap made a key catch in the Titans' game to extend their final drive for the game winning FG. However, he has been inconsistent in his ability to hold onto the ball and at times has either disappeared from the pass offense or kept in to block for protection. Pittsburgh's Heath Miller has been a vital target on short, dump off passes as Roethlisberger's pass protection has forced him to go to the short game. Advantage: Steelers

OL: The Ravens may have the youngest group in the league, with center Jason Brown the senior member at 25 years old, considering that RT Willie Anderson, a 12 year vet has been more of a reserve than a starter this season. The Steelers o-line has been hit with injuries and is considered the weak link of this offense, despite their success last week against San Diego. Advantage: Ravens

DEFENSE:

DL: This is a tough one to decide, as both teams boast big, strong d-linemen whose job it is to clog up the middle and keep the o-linemen off of their LB's. The Steelers have had injuries on their line and while their defense has more sacks than the Ravens, this is more because of their LB's than their linemen. The Ravens' Haloti Ngata is without peer in comparison to his Steelers' counterparts. Advantage: Ravens

LB: The Ravens have Ray Lewis, which normally would end this comparison right there. However, while he has no peer in the middle, the Steelers two outside LB's, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, have been nightmares to opposing QB's all year, and therein is where the edge lies over the Ravens. Advantage: Steelers

DB: The Ravens most likely will be without either of their season starting CB's in this game. Chris McAlister was IR'd earlier this season and Samari Rolle looks to be out or at least severely limited with a groin injury. That leaves Fabian Washington, who is not totally healthy and Frank Walker as their starters. The Steelers' Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend are more solid cover men and tacklers than their Ravens counterparts. Advantage: Steelers

S: Wow, how do you rate a pair of safeties over either team when we're talking about both Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu? Both are All Pro's, certain Hall of Famers and are argued about who is the best in the league. Polamalu has a sore calf but will play and is a better tackler than Reed, who covers the deep ball better than anyone, as evidenced by his 10 interceptions in the past eight games. However, these guys play different positions, Reed a Free Safety, Polamalu a Strong Safety. I love the solid play and versatility of Jim Leonhard over Ryan Clark, along with the big play capabilities of Reed in this matchup. Advantage: Ravens

ST: Both placekickers are extremely accurate, with the Steelers' Jeff Reed having the stronger leg for greater distance. Both Reed and the Ravens' Matt ("It's Not Over Til It's") Stover have proved they can make the pressure kicks. The Ravens have Steve Hauschka for the longer FG's and kickoffs, but he is unproven as far as reliability. The Ravens punter, Sam Koch, is one of the best in the league and has a huge advantage over the Steelers' Mitch Berger. Santonio Holmes is a more dangerous return man than anyone the Ravens put out there for returns. Both teams are solid, yet unspectacular in preventing the long returns. However, the big difference in the punting game swings the favor to the Ravens: Advantage: Ravens

Coaching: Regardless of the great season Ravens rookie head coach John Harbaugh has had, he is not at the level of the Steelers' Mike Tomlin as far as experience, espeically in the postseason. However, his offensive and defensive coordinators are solid, well respected coaches. The Steelers' defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is legendary at his level and while there has been questionable playcalling at times from the offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, the overall edge here goes to Pittsburgh. Advantage: Steelers

How does this translate into the outcome of the game? Let the debate begin!

 

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