Tonight, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are set to renew the most heated, and most fierce rivalry in the NFL. Over the years, the Ravens and Steelers have battled for superiority in the AFC North. Each team has found success, and the heated competition has only fueled the rivalry even more. The Ravens enter Pittsburgh with a sour taste in their collective mouths. Baltimore lost in their last two matchups against Pittsburgh. In week 5, the Steelers claimed victory in Baltimore, beating the Ravens 26-9. The Steelers also defeated the Ravens 31-27 on Christmas Day last year, by virtue of a last-second Antonio Brown arm extension. Just like last year, the Steelers have a chance to win the AFC North division with a win against Baltimore. If Baltimore is to have any remaining chance of winning the all but locked up division, they would need to defeat the Steelers tonight. Here are the three keys to a Baltimore victory tonight.
Ravens Secondary Must Bottle Up Steelers Aerial Assault
This matchup is going to be another test of a great offense and a great defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently ranked fourth in the league in passing yards per game, at 264.5. The Ravens are currently ranked third overall in passing yards allowed per game, at 198.6. To leave Pittsburgh victorious, the Ravens secondary and pass defense will have to maintain form. Baltimore cannot let the Steelers passing attack dominate. Instead, the Ravens secondary must control the game, and prevent Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown from making plays. The Ravens lost on Christmas Day in Pittsburgh last year because the defense could not contain the Steelers passing attack, and the team will lose again if it happens again.
Ravens Offense Must Continue Success
The Ravens offense put on a show last week against the Lions. The same offense that failed to move the ball effectively all season broke out against Detroit. Joe Flacco and the offense scored a total of 37 points, while the defense added another seven. To have a chance at defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens offense will need to use the same formula as last week. The play calling by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was hand tailored to Baltimore’s strengths. The passing game utilized Joe Flacco’s strong arm, and Mike Wallace as a downfield threat. Baltimore will have a hard time doing this, as the Steelers have one of the fourth best statistical defense in the league. Pittsburgh holds opponents to just 294.7 yards per game. Baltimore will need to fight through the Steel Curtain, and score at least 24 points to win this game.
Ravens Must Close the Game
There’s a very good chance that this matchup between the Steelers and Ravens is going to come down to the wire. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens and Steelers have played in 12 games decided by three points or less. Last year in Pittsburgh, the Ravens defense failed to stop the Steelers offense with under two minutes left to close the game. If a similar situation is to arise this year, Baltimore will need to close the game on the right side of the scoreboard. When the Ravens have the lead or the momentum, they need to make sure they do not lose it to the Steelers at the worst possible time.
This rivalry matchup is going to be fierce, and close, but in the end, there can only be one winner.
- Joe Flacco throws for 200 yards and one touchdown.
- Alex Collins runs for 80 yards and one touchdown.
- Justin Tucker hits 2 field goals.
- Ben Roethlisberger throws two touchdowns.
- Le’Veon Bell runs for 100 yards and one touchdown.
FINAL SCORE: Steelers 21 – Ravens 20