The Ravens-Steelers rivalry might be the best rivalry in all of football. It’s definitely the hardest hitting most hate filled rivalry in the NFL. These teams play in the same division, that’s twice a year. On top of that they seem to always meet in the playoffs where the high stakes add something special to the match up.
Simply put: these guys don’t like one another.
Five things to watch:
The Coaches: John Harbaugh vs. Mike Tomlin
Tomlin (39) is heading into his fifth season as the Steelers Head Coach, and he’s been to two Super Bowls already. Harbaugh (49), heading into his fourth year as the Ravens head man, is yearning to break through as Tomlin has and join the coaching elite; but he needs to beat Tomlin first. Watch as the game unfolds, any big decisions are on the coaches. Advantage: Steelers
Flacco vs. The World
Joe Flacco is resilient. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Quarterback under more pressure this season (not named Micheal Vick). He has the pieces in place (Rice, Boldin, Evans) and the Ravens have given him the keys to the offense. How does Joe respond when the lights go on and the pressure is on him? He’s been inconsistent throughout his career, but for the Ravens to soar they need him to become elite. Advantage: The World
Ravens Secondary vs. Steelers Core WR’s
The Steelers Wide Receivers have gotten a lot of press this off/preseason. Hines Ward started it by winning Dancing with the Stars, but his younger counterparts made the highlights that mattered. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders are all young and have all improved dramatically. The Ravens secondary is still a work in progress; they need to show up in a big way for the Ravens to have a chance. Advantage: Steelers
Ravens O-line vs. Steelers onslaught
No team had a worse offseason in regards to their offensive line than the Ravens. They went into the season with rookies and unproven players at left and right tackle, and that spelled disaster. Come Week 3 of the preseason they picked up discarded Viking Bryant McKinnie and put him at left tackle. They think the line is set now, but their O-line has a stiff test against the #1 pass rush from last season. Advantage: Steelers
Ravens Pass Rushers vs. Big Ben:
Is there a harder QB to bring down than Big Ben? Has there ever been? Suggs was the lone double-digit sack artist for the Ravens last year, and he needs help, especially against Rothlisberger. If Ben has time to sling it with these talented receivers it’ll be lights out for the birds Advantage: Steelers
Week 1 is too early to tell how good these teams are. Still, this game has massive implications in the AFC North Championship hunt. The Ravens are a work in progress while the Steelers seem to be going along business as usual. When the teams meet again in Week 9 it may be a different story, but Sunday it’ll be:
Steelers 24 Ravens 14
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.