This is it. The biggest game of the year, in two senses. The first is that if the Ravens don’t win this, they go below .500 and fall two games behind the Steelers in the division. The other is that it’s the first Steelers game, and it’s at home. The fans may be the most pumped up they’ve been in years. Their team is in the hunt, down but not out, and the 55 men they hate the most will be wearing their putrid colors on their field. Should be a crazy atmosphere.
Roethlisberger is OUT. That means many less missed sacks and announcer ass-kissing. That also means that Dennis Dixon is starting, since backup Charlie Batch is also injured. If you don’t remember Dixon from his Oregon days, he’s fast. Very, very fast. He’s also got a big arm, so he makes for some great highlight reels. The reason he wasn’t a legitimate pro prospect coming out of college is because he’s just that, not a pro prospect. He doesn’t have the QB intellegence and the right mindset to be successful. Running the ball whenever you see a hole is what a running back does, not a quarterback. I wouldn’t be concerned, but after seeing Carson Palmer scramble for first down after first down, I am a little bit worried that the same could happen tonight. But I’m sure the defense will be ready for him.
Fabian Washington is done for the season. Troy Polamalu is out tonight. The Steelers have solid, but not incredible receivers. Hines Ward will make some catches and gain a good chunk of yards. Santonio Holmes will make some catches, but he’s very inconsistent. Either he’ll be huge or or be shut down. Luckily, he’s not very tall and can be shut down by whatever corner is on him. The Squealers’ secondary is solid. Flacco needs to let the game come to him, and not try to bring it to himself like he’s tried to do sometimes. He’s had success, but he needs to keep his head on his shoulders and be efficient. Whoever wins the turnover battle will probably win the game.
RAVENS: Ray Rice needs to have a big game, or actually, the backfield in general needs to have a big game. At times, Rice may burn the Steelers with his speed. At other times, they may need Le’Ron McClain to be a bruiser and gain some short yards. Whatever the case, the running backs need to be on the top of their game. Fat Ben and Sally Polamalu may be out, but those big, fast, brutish, ugly linebackers James Farrior and Harrison are still playing. And on that note….
OTHER LESS IMPORTANT TEAM: Farrior and Harrison are the keys to the Steelers’ success tonight. If they can make Flacco scared and force mistakes, it would help their team’s cause very much. Again, the turnovers come into play. If the linebackers can force turnovers, they can force the Ravens to fix their mistakes. And with the injuries and circumstances surrounding the team, that may be easier said than done.
They’ll finally beat them. I can just feel it. It won’t be easy though. 23-17 in overtime.
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