The Steelers offense needs to be at the top of their game today versus the Ravens. The key to the Steelers is easy. They need to convert on critical third downs and do not, under any circumstances, turn the ball over. If the Steelers don't turn the ball over, I believe they win this game. The Titans should have won last week against the Ravens, but turnovers was the deciding factor.
I expect the Steelers to open up the game in a spread offense. The Steelers should spread the Baltimore Ravens defense out with 4 and 5 wide receivers. The Ravens secondary is a bit beat up with Rolle out so this could result in Nate Washington having a big game. This will neutralize the Ravens' heavy blitzing and make a tough defense respect the Steelers passing game. The Steelers offense should not play conservative and tight. This will play right into the Ravens defensive plans which will make this game a much closer game than what it could be. Heath Miller and Mewelde Moore should pose significant receiving threats to the Ravens. Also, the offensive line will be a huge matchup against the Ravens imposing defensive front. The Steelers offensive line played their best game against the San Diego Chargers a week ago, but the Ravens are a much better and more aggressive defense. If Hartwig, Colon, Starks and company can keep Big Ben clean then the Steelers should be successful at Heinz Field today.
The #1 Steelers defense must play opportunistic football today at Heinz Field. The Steelers are relatively healthy today and will pose a huge challenge to the Baltimore's rookie QB, Joe Flacco. Dick Lebeau will try to confuse Flacco will different defensive looks. Per ESPN, the Steelers defense are going into this game with over 100 defensive plays at their disposal. The Steelers defense must shut down the Ravens running attack early and often. This will put the game on Joe "cool" shoulders which is exactly what the Steelers want. If McClain and Ray Rice have success running the football, the Steelers could be in for a long frustrating day.
Expect Troy Polamalu to be all over the field again today. Troy will start things off supporting the run defense as being an 'extra' in the box. Then, he'll drop back into a zone on obvious passing downs. Also, it is absolutely critical that LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison can get to Flacco today. Last game, the Steelers had trouble getting to the quarterback without sending more defenders than what the Ravens could block. This could expose our secondary and Flacco has the offensive line and the strong arm to make the Steelers defense pay for their mistakes. It is very important that the Steelers pass rush is at their best today. This will make Flacco make quick and possible poor decisions which could result in turnovers. Turnovers which will hopefully result in points in favor of the Steelers.
Turnovers is the name of today's game. If the Steelers o-line can protect Big Ben and give Willie Parker some room to run then I expect the Steelers to be victorious. If not, the Steelers could be in for a long and disappointing afternoon. The same goes for the Ravens, if the Steelers can stop the run, and get to Flacco early and often then the Steelers will have an excellent chance of winning today's game. I am going to be optimistic in this prediction but I feel the Steelers win: 27-17.
Offensive Player Of The Game: Hines Ward
Defensive Player Of The Game: LaMarr Woodley