This is one of the two best weeks of the Baltimore Ravens NFL schedule every year as it is Pittsburgh Steelers week and week 11 has Baltimore traveling to Pittsburgh and the terrible towels for Sunday Night Football. The Ravens will host the Steelers in just two weeks in week 13.
The game may have lost some luster with the names that will not be in the game, such as Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, and the latest injured Steeler Ben Roethlisberger, but it is still Ravens Steelers, the best rivalry in professional football and they will be battling for first place in the AFC North. Both teams are coming off of victories in week 10 with Baltimore routing the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh escaping with an overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Baltimore is fresh off of a franchise record 55 points in week 10, but we have all seen how this offense suffers on the road, and they will be taking on a Pittsburgh defense that is ranked first in total defense in the NFL, so points will be at a premium. Pittsburgh has quietly been one of, if not the best defense in the NFL, as they surrender less than 20 points a game, less than 270 yards of offense per game, the fewest passing yards in the NFL, the fifth fewest rushing yards per game, and have committed the fourth fewest defensive penalties. Quite an impressive line for any defense, but the Ravens offense knows this defense and Baltimore scores the fourth most points per game in the NFL, thus this game will put strength against strength.
Perhaps the more intriguing part of the game will be how effective Pittsburgh's offense can be with back-up quarterback Byron Leftwich. Baltimore's defense has played better as of late, but are going to be dealing with a Steelers offense that has had a running back rush for more than 100 yards in three of the last four games and have a good platoon of running backs. With Baltimore corner back Jimmy Smith being out indefinitely, Corey Graham will now be a starter and will likely be tested early and often, so his play is going to go a long way in determining this game.
Even with Roethlisberger out and Pittsburgh wearing their awful bumble bee uniforms, this is going to be a typical Ravens Steelers game, hard fought, emotions high, and a close football game, that could be decided by rookie kicker Justin Tucker. Either way, this is going to be fun to watch and just another chapter in this storied rivalry.
Check back tomorrow to see my key matchups to watch for in the game.
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