Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Preview Roundup


Nov 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown (23) celebrates after breaking up a two point conversion against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Lunchtime Links, where we round up all the latest Ravens news from around the web for your convenient consumption.  Today we have a Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens preview roundup special as we take a look forward to the next installment in this ongoing rivalry.  It’s a marquee matchup of two teams that always put on a great show, no matter what the standings say.

Ravens need more confidence early

The Raven’s offense stumbled out of the gate in game one against the Bengals, but seemed to settle down later in the game. As Jamison Hensley points out, Joe Flacco has a bit of a reputation for slow starts, and it’s something that he is aware of.  Flacco has actually been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL when it comes to performance in the first quarter.  In his last 33 regular season starts, these are his statistics, along with where he ranks among NFL quarterbacks:

  • Passer rating: 75.3 (28th)
  • Completion rate: 59.4 (27th)
  • Passing yards: 1,452 (19th)
  • Yards per attempt: 5.78 (35th)
  • Touchdowns: 6 (20th)
  • Interceptions: 5 (19th)

Only five teams have scored fewer points in the first quarter since the beginning of last season.  It’s a big problem for the Ravens, who are continuously putting themselves in comeback mode.  “We have to come ready to play,” Flacco said. “We have to be confident and we have to believe that we’re going to go out there and play from the very first whistle. I think we definitely looked rusty early on, and we have to make sure we correct that. Like I said, I think a lot of it has to do with being loose, playing confident.”

What factors will affect the outcome of the game?

ESPN writers Jamison Hensley and Scott Brown debate what factors will affect tonight’s game.  One of which brings up the good old memories of Mike Tomlin interfering with Jacoby Jone’s kick return last Thanksgiving.  But obviously we won’t be seeing that happen – maybe ever again.  In fact, Brown goes so far as to think that the Steelers will kick away from Jones.

The two also debate how much of a factor the Ray Rice incident will have on the Ravens during the game.  Hensley thinks that the team will be focused on the game once it starts, because they have too much at stake here.  We tend to agree, but it will certainly be on everyone’s minds.  The media firestorm is too great right now, and things just keep getting worse.  We can only hope that the team remains focused on winning this game and not going into the hole 0-2.

Battle plans and questions for the game

Dev Panchwagh at Russell Street Report points out that the Ravens moved the ball most effectively when running the no huddle offense later in the game against the Bengals.  The problem is, they only ran it on 19% of their total plays.  While it appears that the no huddle won’t be a big part of the offense, it might be worth a second look.  The Steelers really struggled against the no huddle last week against the Browns, who nearly won after overcoming a huge deficit early.

Mike Fast at Russell Street Report thinks that if Lardarius Webb plays, he will line up against Antonio Brown.  Of course, the big question is whether he will suit up or not.  And if he does, will he be 100%?  Not likely, and his conditioning is bound to be a question mark after missing so much time.  Plus, is he still the Ravens best corner, or has Jimmy Smith surpassed him? Historically, Brown has had little success against the Ravens, averaging four receptions for 53 yards in his career.

Thursday is a “must win game”

We’re not really big fans of the “must win” theory, especially this early in the season.  But the Ravens really need to win tonight, or risk fighting history.  And as we know, history usually wins.  Teams that start the season 0-2, especially those that start 0-2 in the division, rarely make the playoffs.  Jason Marcum agrees in his game preview over at Bleacher Report.

More from Ravens News

Marcum also speculates that the Ravens might have been able to pull off the win against the Bengals if Lardarius Webb had played.  We suppose it’s a possibility that A.J. Green might have had a slightly less successful day if Webb had played, but this is a guy who doesn’t really seem to care who is covering him.  He typically gets his regardless.

The bigger problem against the Steelers is that they have not only the talents of Antonio Brown, but Le’Veon Bell looked like a new man last week, and Markus Wheaton looks like a future star as a deep threat.  Do the Ravens have enough guys to cover all three effectively?  If Webb sits this one out, it could be a huge problem for the defense, especially if they generate zero pass rush as they did in week one.