The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will enter their Thursday Night Football matchup tied record-wise at 5-6 apiece, just on the outside looking in at the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC that currently belongs to the Tennessee Titans. It’s safe to say that labeling this game as a “big one” would be an understatement.
The Steelers won the matchup earlier this year in week seven, 19-16. This is not only Baltimore’s chance for revenge, but for what could wind up being a knockout punch come the end of the year. The Ravens will need their best performance of the year against the Steelers who are also full of more hope now than all season.
If there ever was a time for Ray Rice to bust out of this funk that has been his 2013 season, that time has arrived. Rice has dealt with injury, of course, but for the most part while he’s been on the field he has not been the same back he was in years past. Only once this season Rice has eclipsed the 100-yard mark, and his next-best performance was a 74-yard game in early October. Thursday night, he faces a Pittsburgh defense that ranks 23rd in the league against the run — the stage is set for a huge game.
While Rice is going to be the catalyst for the offense, Baltimore is going to have to stop a Pittsburgh offense that has averaged 29.5 points per game over their previous four, where they’ve gone 3-1. The one constant for Pittsburgh has been the play of Ben Roethlisberger, who comes into this game with 3,118 yards and 19 touchdowns and a rating of 92.2.
The Ravens are coming off of their best defensive performance of the season, allowing just three points to the New York Jets. With momentum on their side, Baltimore’s defense is beginning to feel like they can get back to how the unit played last season — although this season it’s a very different squad.
This is Baltimore’s chance to get right back into the thick of it and put away their tough start for good. Remember, there have been a handful of teams in recent years to sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard and end up winning it all by getting hot at just the right time. Baltimore, this could be your time.