Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Baltimore Ravens: Previewing Prime-Time Rivalry Matchup


The NFL just can’t seem to get enough of the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Sunday night the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in their fourth prime-time game of the 2014 season.

These evenly-matched teams sit at the middle of the AFC pack (5-3) and within their division. The winner will move up to second place in the AFC North and the loser would drop to last place, setting this game up as one of the most important matchups of the week.

This game has always been more than the playoff implications. The Steelers-Ravens rivalry is the most intense in the NFL but has recently been one-sided bragging. Coach Mike Tomlin knows that coach John Harbaugh has had the Steelers figured out as of late, winning four out of the last five meetings.

Top Battle of the Game: Steelers Offensive Line vs. Ravens Defensive Line

The Steelers offense has been on fire the past two weeks, but so has the Ravens defense. The Steelers have scored nine touchdowns, all of which have been through the air. The offensive explosion was against the Colts and Texans who are two of the highest ranked defenses.

The Ravens defense has been beating down opposing quarterbacks. They have 10 sacks and 12 quarterback hits in their past two games against Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan. Raven defensive coordinator Dean Peas has used the pass rush to cover up a paltry Ravens secondary. And it’s working. They gave up only one passing touchdown over the past two weeks and are ranked second in overall points allowed (16.4 points).

Considering the way Elvis Dumervil owned Marcus Gilbert in their first meeting of the season, expect Peas to keep up the pressure to set up the sacks. The Ravens know they do not have the talent at corner to keep up with the fiery Steelers offense.

More from Ben Roethlisberger

With the injury to their best corner Jimmy Smith, the Ravens will use corners Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown and safety Matt Elam to cover Steeler receivers not named Antonio Brown. Franks was out of football in 2013, but beat out Brown, who has been deactivated the past two games. Franks is in line for his first NFL start in two years.

They will try to stop the trio of Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore who have five combined TDs over two weeks. Big advantage to the Steelers.

Brown will likely be shadowed by cornerback Lardarius Webb. Roethisberger shouldn’t be afraid to exploit this matchup either. Webb will not be able to cover Brown one on one.

Much like the days of Hines Ward, the Heinz Field crowd would love to see their favorite receiver beat the Ravens. Moore and Heath Miller could be the big beneficiaries if the Ravens slide over extra coverage to help Webb.

The oversized line of Terrell Suggs, Pernell McPhee, Courtney Upshaw and Haloti Ngata must pressure Roethlisberger to limit the damage. Roethlisberger knows the Ravens defensive line takes this game on their shoulders every year, twice a year, and have been quite successful in knocking him around.

The Steelers had ZERO touchdowns just seven weeks ago in Baltimore. Mike Munchak’s offensive line wasn’t quite ready to face the pressure of the rivalry.

Roethlisberger is hoping time heals all wounds this week. He is finally operating behind a healthy and schematically sound line.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert returns (concussion) and his matchup with Ravens sack leader Dumervil could be the story of the game. Gilbert is looking forward to a little redemption on Sunday night:

“I had this game circled…it is personal.”

It better be because if Gilbert blows this opportunity, the Steelers will be Ravens-owned again this year.


Ravens QB Joe Flacco must have worn out his arm in the five-touchdown win over the Tampa Buccaneers. Since that game, Flacco has thrown two more interceptions than touchdowns (4 INT, 2 TD). Flacco controlled the time of possession when the Ravens and Steelers played earlier this season (35 minutes to 24 minutes).

The Steelers defense hope the Mean Joe Greene jersey retirement will charge them up for a big game. Look for James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons to shine in Sunday night.


Turns out my pick of Steelers over the Colts last week wasn’t just homer bias. I am going to keep riding that gut feeling and pick the Steelers for their third straight victory. The timing feels right for the odds to finally be in the Steelers favor. As long as the don’t dial down their high-octane offense, they will come away with a huge victory Sunday.

STEELERS win 35-20