Friday, October 1, 2010

Steelers Game Day 4 - vs. Baltimore Ravens

Last Week:

Pittsburgh 38, Tampa Bay 13
Passing: Batch: 12/17, 186 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 19 car, 143 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 3 rec, 100 yards, 2 TD

Baltimore 24, Cleveland 17
Passing: Flacco: 22/31, 262 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Rice: 15 car, 80 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Boldin: 8 rec, 142 yards, 3 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)
Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 289.3 yards/game (26th)
Baltimore: 302 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 139.3 yards/game (t-31st)
Baltimore: 213 yards/game (17th)

Pittsburgh: 150 yards/game (3rd)
Baltimore: 89 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 24 points/game (8th)
Baltimore: 14.7 points/game (28th)

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 278.7 yards/game (6th)
Baltimore: 244.3 yards/game (1st)

Pittsburgh: 59.7 yards/game (3rd)
Baltimore: 127.7 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 219 yards/game (17th)
Baltimore: 116.7 yards/game (1st)

Pittsburgh: 11 points/game (1st)
Baltimore: 13.7 points/game (4th)

It is Ravens week. Those four words will tell you a ton of things, and all those things lead to one thing: it's on. The stats above? Throw them out the window. This will be a one score game for almost the entire game. Remember when Big Ben made it rain on the Ravens secondary on a rainy Monday night? Yea, the likelihood of that happening again is pretty low, albeit with a terrible Baltimore Ravens secondary.

Wanna know how tight this has been for both teams? Take a look at this shot that Cotter took of his TV on Wednesday night:

Ummmm, that is a little closer than I want it to be. Whatev.

Ravens week is a pretty big deal in Pittsburgh and Baltimore alike. Usually games like this are something more than 1 o'clock games but playing after the sun goes does seems to be something the Ravens don't like to do in Pittsburgh. I guess they get pretty scared. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I have never heard the Steelers scared to play somewhere. I guess that is why we win football games instead of complaining about when they are played.

I don't need to tell you all of this. Limas Sweed can give you a good idea though:

Is Corey Ivy still alive?

Actually is the Baltimore secondary still alive? The secondary in Baltimore makes about as many plays this year as Eric Crouch did in his NFL career. By the way that is no small feat to attain.

Lets talk first about Baltimore's offense. They have a young and some say emerging QB in Joe Flacco, a really good back in Ray Rice and a very good WR they got through the free agent wire and you are thinking that this might be a very good offense. That is just not happening. Boldin has lived up to his end of the bill as he is doing his job week in and week out, but Flacco has been downright bad and Rice is now injured and hasn't churned out a 100-yard game yet this season.

The only thing that has saved the Ravens offense is the Browns defense and they even made the game close. In three games Joe Flacco has thrown for four touchdown passes. Four. Chuck Batch has thrown three. Flacco also has tossed five picks already. Not shocking at all. Flacco isn't bad, but he isn't as good as hes hyped up to be. Get some pressure in his face and he will have problems. If you don't believe that go check the last five games against the Steelers. The Steelers are 4-1 in those games and Flacco hasn't been all that impressive. The Steelers secondary has been very strong this year and the pass rush has been causing some problems so it will be very interesting to see how Flacco handles the pressure. The Steelers are sure as hell not the Browns.

Onto the big bad Baltimore defense. The term "getting old" has been talked about the Ravens defense for about the past three years but it seems as if they just don't get old. Just like the Steelers, the Ravens play some damn good defense and that is how they pride themselves. Granted the Ravens defense isn't on the same level as the Steelers, anymore, it is still a pretty good unit that can cause some havoc. Ed Reed is still out tending to whatever problems he has so that takes a good play maker away from a below average secondary. Not good. Luckily for the Rats Chuck Batch is playing and not Ben Roethlisberger. Or are they lucky?

You know what would help the Ravens? Not being idiots. They had a ton of penalties this season already and they are already almost out of tears talking to the media about how they were "screwed" out of games. Cry me a river. Find an offense and a secondary before you expect the media, or football fans, to feel bad for you.

On the Steelers side of the ball the thing that might win them the game will be their special teams. In close games it always comes down to the special teams and when the Steelers have been in this type of game in the past it woulda made your nervous. Hell we haven't had very good special teams in the recent past. Things have changed. Dan Sepulveda has been money and the coverage units have been night and day from the past couple of years.

The offensive line was splendid last week. Zero sacks on Chuck Batch, which is a small feet in itself. Now I wouldn't expect that against a good Ravens defense, but if you told me before the season about the injury situation we are in now and having to rotate lineman into the game I would have told you that we would have given up 20 sacks by now. Not so much. The line has been really good, and even better they are opening holes for Rashard. Rushing yards are going to be hard to come by in this game, but I feel pretty good about the situation of our line and what we can do up front.

The defensive game plan is easy. Get after Joe Flacco. There is nothing else. If Dick LeBeau just wrote that on a piece of paper with the headline "Baltimore Raves Game Plan" the Steelers would know exactly what to do. I don't know what happened but this defense is playing pissed off. Someone said something, someone looked at them wrong before the season started or something and they are pissed. Playing a pissed Steelers defense is never good.James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are playing unreal football and with Lawrence Timmons playing the way he is I feel pretty good about our defensive unit going into the game. The Steelers still have yet to give up a meaningful touchdown. A garbage time touchdown against the Bucs and basically a garbage time TD against the Titans is it. This defense is downright scary right now.

Over the time I have been on Twitter I have made a lot of what I consider to be friends. Most of those friends are of the Pittsburgh variety, but I have also met some good people from other teams. I have been talking to, and talking smack to, Phil from I Hate JJ Redick, who happens to be a pretty big Ravens fan. Although he roots for the Ravens he is a good dude that loves football.

I asked Phil to write down a few key points for the Ravens to pick up a victory (aside from having Jesus himself come and play in the secondary) and this is what he gave to me:

Air it out

I feel the cornerbacks are really the only weak point of the Steelers defense. Ravens need to come out and throw the ball, especially since Ray Rice is banged up. With Boldin, Mason, and Heap playing well Flacco needs to step up and make plays down the field.

Avoid the Stupid Penalties

This game is always full of emotions. Don't let them get the best of you. I'm looking at you Derrick Mason. Obviously in the heat of the moment its hard to keep your composure but it's the stupid penalties against the Steelers that have cost us in the past.

Under Pressure

The Ravens defense has played pretty well this season (I'm counting that performance last week against the Browns as a fluke) but the one thing they haven't been able to do is create turnovers. The key is getting more pressure on the quarterback, forcing him to make bad decisions. Charlie Batch isn't a good quarterback. Don't let him embarrass you.

Interesting thoughts from Phil. It is always cute when fans think their team has a shot of winning a game they have no business even playing in.

Go over all my information here is my pick: Steelers 20-13

Only one thing left to do from here. Hit it.

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