Friday, October 1, 2010

The View from Pittsburgh

Am I dreaming? Is my team sans Big Ben going for their first 4-0 start since the ‘70s? At the beginning of the season, I had the Ravens winning this game. Last week, I had the Ravens winning this game. Three days ago, I had the Ravens winning this game. Today, I’m taking the Steelers.

Granted, the Ravens need this game more. Handing over a 3-1 Steelers team and first place tie in the AFC North to the prodigal son of Pittsburgh would be more than serviceable. But at 2-1, a loss would drop the Ravens to two games behind the Steelers (and essentially three if you consider the tie-break rules) and rack up their second divisional loss in a young 2010 season. And let’s not forget that the Ravens “should” win this game because the Steelers are playing without their $100 million quarterback.

Last year after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion, the Ravens defeated a Dennis Dixon-led Steelers team in overtime in Baltimore. In their second meeting, Ray Rice asserted himself as the only running back to run for 100 yards on the Steelers in the last 37 games in a 23-20 Ravens loss.

As for this week:
Charlie Batch showed he still has a little something left in the tank last week against the Bucs. Unfortunately for Batch, he is taking an enormous step up in competition this week.

The Steelers O line is improving. Flozell Adams is learning the right tackle role. Doug Legursky seems to be an upgrade as he is playing for the injured right guard Trai Essex, and rookie Maurkice Pouncey has been phenomenal through three games. Improvements such as these have paved the way (or perhaps blocked the way) for Rashard Mendenhall to amass 332 yards with a 5.2 yards per carry average.

After leading the NFL with reception yards per catch in his rookie season, Mike Wallace is continuing to beat secondaries deep even though they know what’s coming. Randle El has lost a step at the No. 3 spot but Hines Ward refuses to age, still catching balls over the middle and getting clobbered before picking himself back up with a huge smile on his mug. Oh yea, and he blocks pretty well too.

Troy is back. The Steelers defense is one of the toughest to play and most exciting to watch when he is in the game. The Steelers also have the best four-man linebacker unit in the game. Who leads the team in tackles? 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison? No. 2009 breakout star Lamar Woodley? No. Maybe all-pro veteran James Farrior? No. The Steelers top tackler award goes to 4th year inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Mike Tomlin’s first draft choice as the Steelers head coach. Yes, they’ve found another one.

Look for the Steelers O to use a combination of Mike Wallace deep and Mendenhall on the run to keep the Ravens D off balance.
Look for the Steelers D to use a myriad of looks to confuse a still-maturing Joe Flacco. Expect a pick from a Steelers linebacker or safety.
Steelers 24-13

2 comments:

  1. That's the way its done when you do it right!

    I think the Steelers will be the better team @ Game Time. I gotta say that they have been Great to Watch. They were given a chance to survive without Ben but their perform has boosted rave reviews. The Ravens are a Good team but I still feel like Joe Flacco will be smothered by the Steelers' D and Ray Rice will be contained also.

    Nonetheless, it'll be fun.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Joe Flacco ripped apart the Steelers D in two drives to end the fourth quarter...they couldn't score on the first one, but he knew how to do it the second time around..expect plenty more great things from him and this talented receiving corps this season!

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