The Ravens are 2-1 and travel to Pittsburgh to play the red hot 3-0 Steelers. This game can affect the AFC North in many different ways. If Ravens win, they both sit on top of the division together. If the Steelers win, they increase their division lead by two games against the Ravens. They both still have to worry about the Bengals. Neither team can afford a loss.
Offense: Edge Ravens
Ray Rice didn’t practice on Wednesday but could still play on Sunday. Joe Flacco had a much better game last week against the Browns and needs to carry over that momentum against the Steelers. The key for Flacco is not to turn the ball over. He has six total turnovers on the year. Boldin is emerging to be one of the best wide receivers this year. He had three touchdowns last week. Steelers are still without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to his suspension. Charlie Batch is doing a good job filling in for Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon. Until Roethlisberger comes back from he’s suspension, Rashard Mendenhall is the focal point of the offense. Mendenhall is the fourth leading rusher in the NFL with 332 rushing yards. He’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Defense: Edge Steelers
The Ravens did have outstanding games against the Jets and Bengals but they tailed off a bit against the Browns. However, Steelers defense is playing much better. Troy Polamalu is playing out of his mind. He already has two interceptions in three weeks. The biggest difference between these defenses is that Steelers create more turnovers. The Steelers have 10 turnovers on the year compared to only one by the Ravens. The Steelers apply more pressure on the quarterback. They have 10 sacks on the year compared to only five by the Ravens, although, the Ravens are leading the league in total yards. However, the Steelers are sixth on that list.
Special Teams: Edge Steelers
Neither team has an exceptional return man but one team has trouble covering kicks. In the first two weeks, the Ravens gave up big returns which lead to crucial points in the game. They did do a good job containing Josh Cribbs last week. They just have to prove to be more consistent.
Prediction: Steelers 17, Ravens 13
The Steelers are at home and are undefeated. They will be going into this game with a lot of confidence. The Steelers have seen what the Browns did with Peyton Hillis. He was able to rush for 144 yards against the Ravens defense. I think you’re going to see a large dose of Mendenhall on Sunday. The Ravens can win this game if they stop the run and not turn the ball over. Those two aspects of the game have been haunting the Ravens for the first three games of the season. Flacco has to prove that he’s not a poor decision maker and needs to build of last week’s performance against the Browns.
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Written by Frisco Fahs