Week 2 Preview: Steelers vs. Ravens

| September 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

RavensWeek 2 Preview: Steelers vs. Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

At

Baltimore Ravens (0-1)

Line: Ravens -3

Thursday at 8:30 pm, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

The Ravens/Steelers rivalry is considered by many to be the best rivalry in all of the NFL and one of the best in sports. Normally during “Steelers Week,” Baltimore is a buzz, however the game has been an afterthought the last few days due to the Ray Rice situation. Despite being just Week 2, this is a must-win for the Ravens as they do not want to start the season 0-2 and, more importantly, do not want to have their second straight division loss. 

The Ravens looked flat and outmatched on Sunday against the Bengals, while the Steelers jumped out to a 27-3 lead against the Browns, only to have to hold on to a win with a final score of 30-27. Football is a week-to-week game. It is all about making adjustments and how you match up against your opponent that week, so we should not base our thoughts on this game solely on how each team played in Week 1. I personally wonder if the Ray Rice situation will be a distraction for the Ravens. If it is, they will get run out of the stadium by their heated rivals. If it is not, they have a chance to win.

Who will prevail and get a big division win? Here is my take on the game:

Steelers offense vs. Ravens defense:

For years this rivalry was defined by defense and smash-mouth offensive football, however for the last few seasons there have been some explosive playmakers on the Steelers offense and they have been very formidable. Antonio Brown is emerging as one of the best wide outs in the game and Le’Veon Bell looks like he could be the next great Steelers running back. Last week we saw the Ravens defense fail to get pressure on Andy Dalton and allow the Bengals to move the ball for a big gain. However, they were able to hold them to field goals on most drives. Ben Roethlisberger is no Andy Dalton and he usually makes teams pay for giving him opportunities to score. If the Ravens are going to stop the Steelers offense, they need to shut down Bell, be physical with the Steelers receivers, and be in Roesthlisberger’s face all night. These are all things they could not do on Sunday and things I am skeptical they can do tomorrow night.

Advantage: Steelers

Ravens offense vs. Steelers defense:

As much as I love Joe Flacco (which is a lot), I believe if he is forced to throw the ball 62 times like he did on the Sunday that it’s not going to go well for the Ravens offense. Flacco did not play well Sunday but, in his defense, there were a lot of times where the receivers failed to get any separation, which led to him having to hold the ball longer. And, when Flacco did throw, the receivers dropped quite a few balls that hit them right in the hands. I love Torrey Smith, but he needs to be more consistent and be able to get separation from defensive backs. He just can’t have “non-existent” games like he did on Sunday.

A bright spot for the Ravens from Sunday was the performance of Justin Forsett, who I believe will be the starting running back for the remainder of the season. He ran hard and with a purpose. He should be able to find some holes against a Steelers defense that gave up 183 yards rushing to the Browns. I think this Ravens offense should be better than they showed on Sunday, but they need to prove it to me before I become a believer.

Advantage: Steelers

Special Teams:

Given the history of this rivalry, it is not out of the realm of possibility to believe this game will be low scoring and come down to field position and likely decided by field goals. Both teams have above average kickers with a slight advantage going to the Ravens and Justin Tucker. However, I believe Antonio Brown and Dri Archer give the Steelers a much bigger threat in the return game than Jacoby Jones for the Ravens, and it would not shock me to see either of them take one to the house.

Advantage: Even

Prediction:

Like I mentioned earlier, the NFL is a week-to-week league any given Sunday (or Thursday in this case) – anyone can beat anyone. My prediction for this game will not solely be based off of last week’s performance by both teams, but rather on the fact that I just don’t think the Ravens are anything more than an average football team. Couple that with the fact that the Ray Rice situation has to inevitably leave the team distracted and not fully focused on the game, I think this could be an ugly one Thursday night.

I really hope the Ravens beat the Steelers or at least keep it competitive – you never know what the emotion of the rivalry will do for the players – but I believe the Steelers are just a better football team. My guess is that it will be somewhat competitive but a late TD will blow the game open and the Ravens will fall to 0-2.

Steelers 24 Ravens 13

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About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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