Surprisingly, all has been quiet this week in both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. No trash talking has occurred yet. In fact, it’s been more like a mutual admiration festival.
Hines Ward, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs, James Harrison, John Harbaugh, and Mike Tomlin have all been playing the media game. Everyone’s saying the right things publically, but don’t be fooled; behind closed doors, things are surely starting to heat up.
Considering how close the Ravens were to winning in Pittsburgh in Week 3 (and they should have won that game), the anticipation for this game has brought a playoff atmosphere to Bawlmer. Expect that high anticipation to turn into some powerful crowd noise at 4:15 on Sunday.
In order to beat Pittsburgh, the Ravens are going to have to beat the odds and find a way to establish a running game against the #1 defense in the NFL. It looks like Ray Rice will not play, which does not bode well for the Ravens, but this will give Le’Ron McClain more opportunities to touch the football. McClain may be the Ravens’ best option this week over the struggling Willis McGahee with the physicality he brings to the running game. And when Pittsburgh and Baltimore square off, the more physical team usually wins.
The biggest test for the Ravens, aside from establishing the run, will be protecting Joe Flacco. I think the Ravens will play one of their best defensive games of the year, and that the Steelers defense will challenge Joe Flacco to beat them through the air.
My prediction: Considering that it’s so hard to beat a divisional rival twice, and that the ‘yins have to come to Baltimore this time, I’m picking the Ravens in a low scoring game this week. Oh, and Heinz ketchup tastes awful and it’s bad for you…too much high fructose corn syrup.
Steelers – 9
Pivotal match-up: Ravens offensive line vs. Steelers linebackers. In order to win, the Ravens will need to find a way to run the football and to protect Joe Flacco from a team that has registered the most sacks in the NFL.
Where it could all go wrong: Pretty simple – the Ravens cannot move the football on the ground, fail to protect Joe Flacco, and allow Roethlisberger to make the big play.
Surprising statistic: The Pittsburgh Steelers rank 5th in the league in sacks allowed with 41. Only the Lions, Bengals, 49ers, and Patriots have quarterbacks with dirtier uniforms.
Last Week’s winner: white guy 26 is the winner, picking Ravens – 26 Redskins 10. My pick 29-17 Ravens. Actual score: 24-10 Ravens.
Week 13 winner: Ravenator predicted a Ravens blowout, picking a 34-0 route of the Bengals. My pick: 32-13 Ravens. Actual score: 34-3 Ravens.
Week 12 winner: Polostat was one of the few fans out there who predicted an easy Ravens win, predicting a 28-17 Ravens victory. My pick: 23-16 Ravens. Actual score: 36-7 Ravens.
Week 11 winner: would have been Ravenator if he would have picked the Giants to win, but the check mark goes to Johnny Rocket, who predicted a 31-11 Ravens loss. My pick: 23-20 Giants. Actual score: 30-10 Giants.
Week 10 Winner: My man Franchise gets the check mark, predicting a 31-10 Ravens victory. Remember when Ozzie Newsome was getting verbally crucified on the airwaves? I guess all of us should trust the Franchise. My pick: 29-12 Ravens. Actual Score: 41-13 Ravens.
Week 9 Winner: Johnny Rocket picked the closest score, predicting a 22-16 Ravens win. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the Ravens to put up 37 points on the road. My pick: 23-17 Browns. Actual score: 37-27 Ravens.
Week 8 winner: Nestminder is our first back-to-back winner, picking the Ravens to win 24-6. We had a record-low in the number of predictions received, but we can rebound this week. We’ll chalk that one up to the new website. My pick: 27-6 Ravens. Actual score: 29-10 Ravens
Week 7 winner: Nestminder picked a 20-13 Ravens victory and Polostat was a close second. My pick: 24-16 Ravens. Actual score: 27-13 Ravens.
Week 6 winner: Johnny Rocket correctly picked against the Ravens, per usual, predicting a 32-8 Colts victory. My pick: 28-23 Colts. Actual score: 31-3 Colts.
Week 5 winner: Columbia Ken picked the closest score, predicting a 17-13 Titans victory. My pick: 17-9 Ravens. Actual score: 13-10 Titans
Week 4 winner: Jon R. reluctantly picked a 24-20 win for the Steelers. My pick: 13-10 Ravens. Actual score: 23-20 Steelers (OT)
Week 3 winner: EazyE picked a 23-13 win for the Ravens vs. Cleveland. My pick: 23-13 Ravens. Actual score: 24-10 Ravens.
What are your predictions this week?