The Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens today at 1:00 at Heinz Field (or should I say “Hines’ Field”?). The Black & Gold is coming off of an unexpected 3-game winning streak, and have a chance to go to 4-0 prior to Ben Roethlisberger’s return.
Baltimore won’t be an easy victory for the Steelers, but I believe that a Steelers win is going to be the outcome of today’s contest. Here are the 5 factors that I think will lead to that victory:
- Home field advantage – Heinz Field is a tough place for visiting teams to play. Steeler Nation is always out in full force, and they make it a very hostile environment for Steelers opponents. The Ravens have not won a game in Pittsburgh since December of 2006. Moreover, they are 4-10 overall when playing at Heinz Field.
- Mike Wallace – The Baltimore Ravens haven’t given up a reception of more than 30 yards this season. Moreover, they have the top passing defense in the NFL. But the Ravens haven’t faced Mike Wallace yet. Wallace is the Steelers’ speedy receiver who led the NFL in yards per catch last season. He is currently third in the NFL in that category with a 26.7 yards per catch average. He is also second in the NFL (behind Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson) with 3 catches of 40 yards or more. Last week against Tampa Bay, Wallace caught two touchdown passes of over 40 yards. I expect Wallace to catch another long touchdown today.
- Ray Rice – I hate Ray Rice. I don’t hate him because he’s ever done anything to me personally. I hate him because he’s been deadly against the Steelers. Rice rushed for 141 yards in the season finale last year against the Steelers. He became the first back in 33 games to gain 100 yards against the Steelers’ defense. Since 2008, Rice has the highest rushing average of any back in the NFL against the Steelers. He also has the highest average for total yards from scrimmage against the Steelers. Fortunately, Rice has been limited all week in practice due to a knee injury. He is going to attempt to play, but he won’t be at 100%. His injury is a very good thing for the Steelers.
- Dick LeBeau & Troy Polamalu – Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau loves confusing quarterbacks. He uses a variety of formations and blitz packages to do this. But his primary weapon is Troy Polamalu. Troy moves around so much that it makes it impossible for offenses to know what he’s going to do. By the time they figure it out, it’s too late. Troy leads the Steelers in interceptions. But he’s also capable of diving over the offensive line to sack a quarterback (just ask Tennessee’s Kerry Collins). Ravens QB Joe Flacco is considered to be one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL. But LeBeau and Polamalu have always made him look rather average when he’s faced the Steelers.
- Charlie Batch – That’s right, Charlie Batch. Batch tossed 3 touchdown passes last week against Tampa Bay and showed the world that he’s not ready to be put out to pasture just yet. If Batch can have some early success in the passing game against Baltimore’s defense, it will really open things up for Rashard Mendenhall and the Steelers’ rushing attack. If Batch can’t make the Ravens respect his arm, then it is going to be a very long day for Mendenhall. But Batch is a veteran, and he knows what is required of him.
Of all of the keys to victory that I named, Charlie Batch is clearly the most important. He has to play well. If he doesn’t, he will nullify the advantage that Mike Wallace gives them. He will also make it much harder on both Rashard Mendenhall and the Steelers’ defense.
I believe that Charlie Batch is capable of getting the job done against the Ravens. Dennis Dixon almost beat the Ravens last year, and Batch is much more poised and experienced than Dixon. Batch doesn’t have to pass for 300 yards. We know that he’s no Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. But if he can pass for 180 yard or more, the Steelers should walk away with a victory. More importantly, Big Ben will return to join a team with a 4-0 record. Then the fireworks will really begin.
Here we go Steelers, here we go!!!!!!!
Today’s featured Steelers gear:
Not only are we Steelers bloggers, but we’re also Steelers fans. We search hard for the coolest Steelers stuff. We try to find Steelers gear that we want. Then we make you aware of them in case you want to add them to your Steelers collection.
We love the Game Stopper 1/4 zip sweatshirt! It features an embroidered team logo on the left chest, team-colored stripes down the sleeves, and hand warmer pockets to keep you in the game when the temperatures drop.
And we don’t want the ladies to feel left out. So how about this lightweight Breakout Play fleece pullover for perfect layering on cold days. Its bold team color stripes on the shoulders and sides showcase your Steelers spirit for all the world to see!
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