It doesn't take an NFL coach to understand that the Steelers plan of attack on the Ravens during their Wild Card playoff meeting on Saturday will revolve around exposing the Ravens depleted secondary. Fortunately for the Ravens, plenty has gone their way this week, making this a very winnable road playoff game.
Accounting for the Steelers league-best passing attack won't just be the Ravens secondary, they'll also solicit some help from Mother Nature as it's expected to rain throughout most of the evening. Couple a muddy Heinz Field grass surface with 10 mph winds, the high-profile and speedy passing attack of the Steelers should slow down a step or two.
Of course, rain certainly doesn't just benefit the defense at times, where one slip could lead to a long touchdown, let's hope the Ravens equipment staff packed the longest spikes possible.
At the most crucial point in the season, the Steelers will have to rely on their passing attack more than ever before. Instead of star running back Le'Veon Bell carrying the load of the offense and playing in his 30th consecutive game, he'll watch this one from the sidelines after being ruled out with a knee injury suffered in last week's division-clinching game against the Bengals. Bell had accounted for 77% of the Steelers rushing yards, and now they must turn to rookies Josh Harris (undrafted), Dri Archer (3rd-round) and freshly signed free agent Ben Tate to carry the load out of the backfield during conditions that most often warrant a heavier rushing attack.
The Ravens already boast the NFL's fourth-fewest rushing yards allowed per game and they'll also be getting Haloti Ngata back fresh off a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Vegas now has the Steelers favored by three, which if anyone is familiar with this series and how close these games often are (let's just forget what happened last time), that's just about in-line with what we should expect. Given that most home teams are already given a three-point cushion, calling it a toss-up between the Ravens and Steelers is right on par with what this game is appearing to look like.
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