#228: Raven Revenge
Sorry for the "USA Today"-style headline.
Last week, the Steelers were able to beat the Patriots primarily by keeping the ball out of Tom Brady's hands. The time of possession differential was essentially 2-to-1 in favor of the Steelers, and they won by only 8 points (the last two coming on a bizarre safety right at the end). Not only that, but the Steeler defense played man-to-man coverage against the New England wideouts, a deviation from previous PIT/NE contests.
This week, a different animal comes to Heinz Field. The division rival Baltimore Ravens will come a-calling, looking to execute a regular season sweep and take first place from the Steelers (perhaps to be shared with the Bengals) and create a virtual 2-game lead (with tie-breakers factored in).
Baltimore is a far superior team defensively than the Patriots, and they have a pass rush that can put quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on his backside almost as soon as he receives the ball from center Marquis Pouncey.
The key to the Steelers surviving the Ravens is to keep their All-Pro nose guard Haloti Ngata out of the backfield. I don't think that reports of a thigh injury on the big man will slow him significantly. Ngata aside, Pittsburgh's passing defense should be able to keep Joe Flacco in check. And even if running back Ray Rice rushes for 100 yards or so (which I expect), if Roethlisberger has time to throw, the Steelers should be able to keep it close.
Bottom line: If the Steeler O-Line, and particularly right guard Ramon Foster, can keep the big defensive lineman in front of them, Pittsburgh can win this game. If he's allowed to run free in the Steeler backfield..."Ngata" chance.
On today's show:
- Steeler talk for most of the show.
- Penguins cool off this week.
- Pirates do not pick up options on several high priced players.
-Pitt is still in the running for a conference crown.
- Mike goes 1-1 in his NFL picks last week (6-10 overall...ick).