Baltimore at Pittsburgh: 5 Things to Know
Happy Halloween! To celebrate we have a few scary (I'll stop now) matchups to look forward to in Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Going into the game the two teams are remarkably even, both at 5-3 for the season and when you delve deeper into the numbers it gets even closer. But what will be the five keys to a win for each respective side?
No.1: Steve Smith Vs the Steelers' secondary.
Quite simply Smith has been the Ravens' saviour on offence, leading the team in receiving yards (675)and joint top with Torrey Smith for most touchdowns with four. Even at the ripe age of 35 Smith has been torching defences with typical Steve Smith attitude, never has there been a player more suited to the AFC North style of football than Steve Smith. As a Pittsburgh fan I'm glad to see him up in our division, but dread facing him twice a year, because even in his 14th year in the league, he is still a defence's nightmare.
No.2: Ben Roethlisberger Vs the Ravens' defence.
Last week's six touchdown performance from Roethlisberger was pretty disgusting to watch for Colts fans, but for everyone else in the league it was a demonstration of near flawless passing. The fourth highest yardage in a single game in history with 522 yards and six touchdowns, both of which are franchise records. Roethlisberger is also the ONLY quarterback in history with two games over 500 yards. And there are still people saying he doesn't deserve a hall of fame spot?
Anyway, I'm not expecting a similar kind of performance this week, historically Ravens-Steelers games usually have a combined 20 points at the end of play, and the Ravens have always seem to have had Big Ben's number.
No.3: Steelers receivers not named Antonio Brown.
Last week was a coming out party for rookie Martavis Bryant with 83 yards and two touchdowns, while tight end Heath Miller looked like the Heath Miller of 2008 with 112 yards and a touchdown grab. Although Brown still went off with over 100 yards and two touchdowns it was nice to see others contributing to the effort. I know I'm biased, but I honestly believe the Steelers have one of the most all-round offensive units in the league.
No.4: Both teams' ground attacks.
If you had said before the start of the season that both the Ravens and Steelers would be in the top ten for rushing yards per game I probably would have laughed in your face. Its so odd to see a balanced attack from both teams, in recent seasons both have flat out sucked at running the ball, the Steelers particularly, but now both teams are taking the pressure off their respective quarterbacks with running games averaging 128.4 yards and 127.1 yards per game for Baltimore and Pittsburgh respectively.
No.5: BATTLE OF THE KICKERS!
Who doesn't love some good kicking numbers? Well considering the low scoring affair that is a Ravens-Steelers game, field goals could be all important. Both Justin Tucker and Shaun Suisham have been pretty much automatic this year, with Tucker going 18 out of 21 attempts and Suisham 14 out of 15. Something the Detroit Lions wish they had given their shocking run of kickers so far.
Predictions for the game? Low scoring, high-tempered, a game-winning field goal? You bet. Vintage AFC North football.