The 2-1 Baltimore Ravens head into Steeltown to face the 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers today and who would have thought it would be Pittsburgh with the undefeated record at this point, despite the loss of star QB, Ben Roethlisberger. Even if the Steelers end the day at 3-1, most if not all, Pittsburgh fan would have been thrilled to know this after finding out Big Ben would miss the first four games under suspension.
Their QB play hasn't been great, but good enough to win those three games. Not surprisingly, their defense has been spectacular, making life a lot easier for the offense, giving them short fields to work with off of a plus-6 turnover ratio.
This bodes poorly for the visiting Ravens as despite the winning record, has the polar opposite turnover ration of minus-6. To expect the Ravens to continue to lose the turnover battle and escape Pittsburgh with a win is doubtful in a game that will undoubtedly be just another classic battle between these two teams.
For purposes of consistency in performing at high levels and demonstrating the true and violent nature of pro football, there is no other rivalry in sports today that you can confidently sit in front of the TV and know you are about to see a street fight, hard hitting, bodies flying, bone-crushing, physicality like you always get when these two teams meet. Regardless of where this game is played, the home team enjoys the advantage as the fans might take this game more personal than the players. Time is measured in both cities from the time we play each other to the next time we play. For a minimum of twice per season, every fan knows this is football at its best, despite the usual lack of scoring, as both teams are based on dominating defenses.
Defense should dominate today as well, but in order for the Ravens to win the game, it will have to happen on offense. The Ravens have retooled their passing game and now have the targets that QB Joe Flacco needs to get to the next level. With the combination of the Steelers run defense being the best in the league and the injury to RB Ray Rice, the Ravens will have to take to the air and limit the turnovers if they want to win today. The offensive line has to protect Flacco and give him time so that he does not panic and either fold up for the sack or throw the ball off track into the waiting arms of Troy Polamalu or other Steelers' secondary players.
I'm not convinced either the offensive line or Flacco can rise above the pressure to avoid the turnovers while at the same time cause enough havoc on their own to not only with that all-important turnover battle, but the game itself. In games like this, it always seems that the Ravens come very close, still have a chance to win in the game's final moments, but those mistakes and penalties always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the end for the Ravens. Hopefully, that will all change today, as the Ravens pass Pittsburgh in the AFC North with a road victory. I prefer to get this one wrong, but here it is:
Steelers over Ravens: 16-13 (PS- Come back at game time to join in on our 'Open Thread')