Baltimore Ravens (13-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Regular season numbers
- Points per game: Ravens -- 22.3 (T-16th), Steelers -- 23.4 (12th).
- Total Off. Yards per game: Ravens -- 322.9 (22nd), Steelers -- 345.3 (14th).
- Penalties: Ravens -- 90 (T-10th), Steelers -- 100 (T-19th).
- Points per game allowed: Ravens -- 16.9 (3rd), Steelers -- 14.5 (1st).
- Takeaway/Giveaway: Ravens -- +7 (9th), Steelers -- +17 (2nd).
Keys to victory
- Ray Rice has to not only make his presence felt catching passes out of the backfield, but he has to recognize opportunities where protecting Joe Flacco's blindside is neccessary, especially against the fierce Steelers 3-4 defense, which has a knack for forcing turnovers.
- Nose tackles Kelly Gregg and Terrence Cody have to get enough push up the middle on running plays to force the Steelers to become one-dimensional. Ed Reed will have to keep everything in front of him, and take control of the secondary without taking too many risks.
- Joe Flacco must make quick, smart reads, and get the rid of the ball before the pocket collapses. Wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason can make plays after the catch.
- The defense must force turnovers and get inside Flacco's head. The Steelers will not be able to run or pass up and down the field against the red hot Ravens' defense.
- The offensive line has to control the line of scrimmage, especially on third downs. In their last meeting against the Ravens the Steelers were an insufficient 4 for 13 on perhaps the most crucial down (third) because they struggled in the trenches.
- Rookie wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have to make plays both on special teams and in the passing game, especially if the Ravens defense limits the run.
Prime match-up: Ravens LT Michael Oher vs. Steelers OLB James Harrison -- After seeing how many times Oher mixed it up with Chief linebackers Jovan Belcher and Tamba Hali in the Ravens wild card victory, combined with the intense level that Harrison plays at all the time, I think this could be the match-up of the week in all four games combined. What makes things even more interesting is the fact that Harrison hasn’t recorded a sack against the Ravens since early in the 2008 season, seven Baltimore-Pittsburgh showdowns ago.
Final Score: Baltimore -- 20, Pittsburgh -- 17