NFL Preview Week 4: It’s Ravens Week
By Arthur W Mueller
One of the NFL’s biggest rivalries resumes on Thursday at Heinz Field. The last time the Ravens and Steelers met, the Ravens won 30-17 in Pittsburgh to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.
The teams that will meet tonight are facing different challenges than they were a year ago. The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a 28-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and have lost the first three games of the season. The biggest problem for the Ravens has been their passing game, as they have struggled to replace Torrey Smith, who signed with San Francisco in the off-season. Their first round pick, receiver Breshad Perriman has yet to play due to injury. Add in an injury to starting tight end Crockett Gillmore and quarterback Joe Flacco is not left with many receiving options besides 36-year-old Steve Smith. This predictability allows opposing defenses to use extra defenders to stop the running attack. The Ravens’ defense is reeling after losing Terrell Suggs to a torn Achilles and allowing 227 yards to Bengals receiver A.J. Green.
The Steelers’ big problem is, as coach Mike Tomlin put it, “Ben’s got a knee.” Michael Vick will have to start in Roethlisberger’s place. Last year, Vick was part of a nightmarish season for the Jets. The Steelers hope that the bounty of offensive talent surrounding Vick will enable him to be much more successful than he was in New York. The Steeler defense has looked better than expected this season, only allowing six points last week against the St. Louis Rams.
Two weak offenses meet two average defenses. The Ravens have been good at stopping the run while vulnerable to the pass; the Steelers are looking to run the ball more. The Steelers defense has been playing well since opening night, preventing the big plays that the Ravens will be looking for.
The silver lining for both of these teams is that a playoff spot is still in reach since it is still early in the season. Many other teams with hotter starts, such as the Jets and the Raiders, have serious question marks moving forward. With that said, this game is still very important for both teams. The Ravens cannot afford to start the season with four straight losses, and the Steelers need to at least tread water until Ben Roethlisberger returns.
The Ravens’ losses have all been very close games, suggesting they are better than their record. Michael Vick is past his prime and the Ravens have been successful in stopping the run this season. The Steelers defense is solid, but they aren’t the type of unit that can go out and win a game.
Ravens 14, Steelers 12