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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Baltimore Ravens: Week 11 Preview

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Steelers Vs. Ravens Week 11 Preview

Jason Bridge-US Presswire

This Sunday night the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to take on the Baltimore Ravens on national television and they are going to do it severely short handed. Now, as Steelers fans understand this is a team that can deal with injuries, but sometimes things can get so bad that not even that Steelers magic can overcome it. Is this a situation like that? Read on and let’s find out.

The Steelers are going to be going into what is their biggest game of the season minus their best player; quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who is recovering from a SC joint sprain and a dislocated rib. The latter of the 2 injuries has been reported to be potentially life threatening, and so the Steelers may need to come to terms with LAB(Life After Ben).

Going into last weekend, life was good for the Steelers. They were riding a winning streak and looked like they had put the dreadful start to the season behind them. And to top it off they were getting a nice cupcake game before their 3 game AFC North gauntlet. But what happened instead was Roethlisberger gets hurt and the Steelers barely escape with their lives and an overtime win.

This moves us to now. The Steelers must try and rebound and rally around backup quarterback Byron Lefwich in hopes of escaping this week with a win heading into the rest of the season. Literally at this point, the Steelers have to take the season one game, no one play at a time, executing at the top of their games in hopes of getting out alive.

Sounds like a longshot for the Steelers against the balanced and physical Ravens but what are the real keys to victory? Keep reading and find out.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @nfldraftboard for all things Steelers and NFL draft related.

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When the Steelers are on offense

Jason Bridge-US Presswire

When the Steelers have the football it's going to be vital that they do 2 things really well. They must first run the football, and second they must protect Leftwich.

No one really expects the Steelers to have the same sort of offense with Leftwich in charge of it as when Roethlisberger does. He's not nearly as mobile or smart and his long slow exaggerated throwing motion means that the ball is going to come out a little late, and it's going to come out with some heat on it. When the Steelers throw and hopefully it's after they have well established the run game, they need to use corssing routes and high percentage to not only keep the football moving but also to get Leftwich some confidence. The worst thing they can do it go out and starting slinging it downfield because it Leftwich starts off on the wrong foot, say with an interception it could be devestating to his confidence.

No, when the Steelers have the ball, they must run it with conviction and when they do throw play to the strengths of the offense with weapons like wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Heath Miller.

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When the Steelers are on defense

Jason Bridge-US Presswire

When the Steelers are on defense they should really focus on stopping talented Ravens running back Ray Rice. This Ravens team has become much more balanced on offense, but it seems to me if they can stuff Rice in the run game and force quarterback Joe Flacco into obvious passing situations it will give the pass rushers a chance to really get after Flacco. But ultimately it's going to take another brilliant game plan by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and flawless execution by the player to win this. It's not just about holding down the Ravens offense. With so many problems the defense is going to force some turnovers and possibly even get a scoure on defense or spcial teams.

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Player to watch-Steelers

Cary Edmondson-US Presswire

I think if there is one guy who can really make some noise with Leftwich throwing to them against this defense it's Miller. The Ravens are going to be watching wide receiver Mike Wallace closely, so there are going to be voids in that Ravens defense he can exploit. He is an experienced veteran who knows this system so well and has some of the strongest hands in the league.

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Player to watch-Ravens

David Richard-US Presswire

For the Ravens it's all about Rice. He's such a weapon whether it's running the football or catching it out of the backfield. He's going to be a matchup nightmare for the Steelers and could end up having a massive game.

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The X-factor-The Steelers offensive tackles

Jason Bridge-US Presswire

I understand that the Ravnes are minus 3 of their best players, but with linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Terrell Suggs on the edges along with defensive end Haloti Ngata wreaking havoc on the inside, tackles Max Starks and Mike Adams are going to have a lot of one on ones on the ends and how they hold up will make all the difference in whether or not the Steelers can win.

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Frank Victores-US Presswire

I try very hard to remain positive about the Steelers even when things are grim, but this one is going to be too much to cope with. I expect the Steelers to put up a great fight and even lead at some point, but I am not at all convinced it will be enough to win. I think it will be close, and the Steelers will get better, but I think in the end the balance of the Ravens offense and the lack of Steelers offense will be too much for the Steelers to deal with, and they lose a heartbreaker.