Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Who Has the Advantage?
Ravens vs Steelers: Who Has the Advantage?
This coming Sunday, the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will go on the road to face the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, both teams split the two games they played, with both road teams winning by three-point margins.
The Ravens (3-3) are currently tied for second place in the AFC North along with the Cleveland Browns, while the Steelers (1-4) are looking up at everyone in the division.
Baltimore has struggled, to say the least, when not playing at home, and are 1-2 on the road. A win in Heinz Field this week could put them in a potential tie for first place in the AFC North while heading into their bye week. The start to Pittsburgh’s season has been much worse, losing their first four games before tasting victory for the first time in 2013 last week.
Both teams display offenses that are struggling in some way, shape or form. The offensive lines of the Ravens and the Steelers have each given up 19 sacks on the year, which is tied for sixth worse in the NFL. Furthermore, their running games are near the bottom of the league rankings.
Defensively, Baltimore’s strength is stopping the run, as well as rushing the passer. The Ravens are seventh in run defense and have the second-most sacks in the NFL (22) through the first six weeks of the season. Although their record doesn’t indicate it, Pittsburgh’s defense is one of the best in the league. They’re sixth overall, and are fourth in pass defense.
With both offenses trying to find their way, and the two defensive units showing some production, this week’s battle between the Ravens and the Steelers will appear to be a low-scoring affair. Let’s take a look to see who has the advantage.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
Steelers Pass Offense vs Ravens Pass Defense
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is averaging close to 300 passing yards per game, despite being sacked 19 times so far this year. Last week, Roethlisberger was under pressure and was sacked four times, but managed to lead his team to victory. Unfortunately, Big Ben will have to rely on his shaky offensive line to keep two of the league’s best pass rushers at bay in outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
Steelers Run Offense vs Ravens Run Defense
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. Baltimore is tied for seventh in the league in run defense (98.2 yards per game), and Pittsburgh’s running game averages a miniscule 61.0 ypg (31st in the league).
Ravens Pass Offense vs Steelers Pass Defense
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is seventh in the league in passing yards, and his favorite target, wide receiver Torrey Smith, has the fourth most receiving yards in the NFL with 568. However, the Steelers’ fourth-ranked pass defense, and the coverage of cornerback Ike Taylor on Smith should bring things to a halt.
Ravens Run Offense vs Steelers Run Defense
Just like the ground attack of the Steelers, not much excitement is expected from the running game of the Ravens. Averaging only 72.7 ypg, Baltimore hasn’t wowed many of their fans. However, the duo of running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, along with the league’s best fullback Vonte Leach leading the way, should be good enough to slice through a Pittsburgh run defense that’s allowing an average of 114.8 ypg.
The difference in this phase of the game is the ability to make big plays. Pittsburgh has yet to make a splash on special teams. The only bright spot is kicker Shaun Suisham being perfect on the year in field goals. Baltimore already has made fireworks in the return game this season with Tandon Doss’ punt return for a touchdown.
As mentioned before, last season, both meetings between these two teams came down to the very end. This is still considered one of the best rivalries in the NFL today, and both John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin are very familiar of what each opposing team is capable of.
I won’t be surprised to see this game ending by another three-point margin. Both defenses will keep their team within striking distance, but Baltimore’s pass rush against the Steelers’ vulnerable offensive front will flourish, and the Ravens’ running game will find a way to manage the clock late in the game against Pittsburgh’s soft run defense.
Prediction: Ravens 16, Steelers 13