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Friday, December 03, 2010

Who I like - Baltimore version

This should be a very interesting game on Sunday night, one with a great deal on the line.

A victory by the Steelers would put them a game up on Baltimore in the division race and split the season series. Baltimore would lose the tiebreaker at this point, based on the Steelers having a better division record.

A win by the Ravens would all but guarantee them the division title based on having beaten the Steelers twice.

Much has been made about Ben Roethlisberger's injured foot, but it could be a blessing in disguise for Pittsburgh.

The injury is at its worst when Roethlisberger has to drop back, plant his injured right foot and throw.

How do you guarantee he doesn't have to do a lot of that? Go to the shotgun.

The Steelers haven't used their no-huddle offense much this season, but Roethlisberger's injury could force them to do so.

And much like the Steelers, the way to hurt the Ravens is to spread them out. Roethlisberger excels in that kind of attack.

At this point in his career, that's not what Joe Flacco does best.

The key player for the Steelers could be Mewelde Moore, who has become a player Roethlisberger looks to on third downs. The Steelers will split him out wide and have him run patterns out of the backfield. He's very good at finding the soft spots in a zone or beating man coverage.

The same could be said of Baltimore's Ray Rice, who is second on the team behind Anquan Boldin with 47 catches.

This group of Steelers has also always thrived when they get an "us against the world" mentality. It certainly has that this week.

This is also a group that went into Baltimore last season without Roethlisberger, Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu and took the Ravens into overtime before losing.

They'll beat the Ravens this time around, 24-23


Skinley said...

Obviously, I like your prediction. I'm just not sold we beat the Ravens. They are better than us, in my opinion. Do you really think the shotgun benefits us that much more? Seems like one less way to run play action and send Wallace deep...which is one of our main threats. We will see. Skinley says take the Ravens 24-10 over the Steelers.

Anonymous said...

Spreading the ravens sound excellent. But it all falls on the oline play. If they play like they did against the bills the offense won't get anything done

I still think a heavy dose of mendenhall will win us this game. The ravens haven't been as good lately against the run and he did have a good game against the in week 4, even if the stats don't show it

Vaflyer said...

IMO, if this team spreads it out and tries to do to Baltimore what they did against NE, they will get beat badly. If they go conservative, control the clock and give Baltimore a heavy dose of Mendy...we win.

Anonymous said...

Dale, in Ray Anderson's chat he said that if a defender his a player with his helmet because the offensive player ducked more moved at the last second, then its not looked at by the league as an offense or penalty. However, this is not what the league told Harrison during his meeting with Goodell. Harrison was told it was the defender's responsibility. Is this getting out of hand or what?

marc said...

it should be no surprise to anyone by now that the league did not think thru it's reaction to "concussion weekend" and is now having to scramble to explain itself. when the ambassador to ireland has to take time out of his day, then something is going on.

regarding the game, i am very skeptical the o-line can protect the QB in the shotgun. i am also skeptical that a heavy dose of the run will work either. imo, arians must have his best game as a play caller to keep the ravens off balance and exploit their secondary with play action. we'll see how that goes.

datruth4life said...


I think this is a game of field position and I think A. Brown and E. Sanders, though rookies, could be huge. A. Brown is the best returner on this team bar none and could break one if given the opportunity. Sanders, as the 3rd WR, will have one on one coverage for most of the game. The speed that both brings could also be a much needed aspect of this game for our offense. Teams just aren't afraid of Hine, El, or Heath Miller beating them deep. Even if A. Brown doesn't know the whole offense, I say through him a few smoke routes, slants and let him run a reverse or two. In other words, get him the ball in space and let him run. Here's also hoping that C. Butler will be active in place of Keenan Lewis this week. If McFadden's hammy doesn't hold up, I'd feel better about having Butler in the game rather than Lewis. Still, a Steelers victory against the Ravens, who I believe is a better team this year, is a tall order to ask for. We'll see.

Dave said...

I'm sorry but I think the Ravens are quite overrated and their record is inflated by beating a bunch of chumps and losing to the good teams. And yes, the Steelers 8-3 record has been formed in similar fashion. But, I don't think the Ravens are a special team and certainly not better than us.

3 losses = Cincy, NE and Atl
1 quality win agaisnt Jets (wk 1)
Blowout wins: Den, Car, Mia

3 losses = Baltimore, NO, NE
1 quality win against Atlanta (wk 1)
Blowout wins: TB, Cle, Oak

It'll be a battle, because it always is. If it weren't for the injuries I'd say the Steelers would win with relative ease. I tend to agree with Dale's prediction, though I think the score may be a little lower, more like 20-17.

Patrick said...

the defense wins or losses the game, because the offense isn't putting up more than 17. With that said, I'll take a defensive TD and call it 24-17 Steelers.

My brain tells me Ravens take it in another close one, but I really do beleive this team is better than it plays (see Buffalo). Heres to hoping they are up to the task.

Its a game that will really swing their season one way or another.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have Mendenhall doing the things you describe Moore doing on third down. At least splitting them. If it's too much work for him then let Redman have some more of the carries.

I think the Ravens will win. Don't trust our O-line in this spot, or our D-line as the game goes on.

Dale Lolley said...

The Ravens are 26th in the league in sacks. Despite all of that defensive talent, they don't get after the QB real well. They have to blitz to get pressure.
And by spreading them out, you force them to identify their pass rushers early - just like what happens to the Steelers.
Spread them and get the ball out quickly.
There's also some stuff the Steelers can do in terms of play-action out of the shotgun. I can't tell you exactly what it is they worked on, but maybe you'll see it Sunday.
I do expect them to line up and run at the Ravens some - they won't abandon the running game because they will have some success there. But I expect a healthy dose of shotgun as well.

Anonymous said...

I feel that Mendy (and i hope I'm wrong) will get hurt in the 2nd.
Redman will shine, and Hines will hurt them.
Our D will give some up but late in the game come up with something special and give the game over to the O.
Than we will run the clock out.

Anonymous said...

Is Arians aware that it is possible/permissible to run out of the gun? For someone who strives to model the O after the Colts, he seems to have overlooked that historically successful/complimentary chapter of their playbook.

And how does AR2 feel about Ray Anderson completely contradicting him yesterday regarding this sudden midseason emphasis on hits. One of them is either completely ignorant, or a bald faced liar.

marc said...

"Spread them and get the ball out quickly."

Dale, the key word in that sentence is quickly, which #7 does not do. and to spread them out means our o-line must match up and i just don't see that happening. other teams have shown the ability to pressure our QB's with a 3 or 4 man rush.

and i would love to see the play action you are referring to. i have never thought play action out of a shotgun has any real effect on a defense.

Anonymous said...

Not when the defense knows you almost never run from the gun. Arian's seems to like to remove any guesswork for the opposing D through formations and situational tendencies. Magnanimous gent.

Patrick said...

"There's also some stuff the Steelers can do in terms of play-action out of the shotgun. I can't tell you exactly what it is they worked on, but maybe you'll see it Sunday."

I know its not that big of a deal, but why even mention this stuff and risk letting them know? Maybe I'm too Belichikian, but I'd prefer not letting the other team know any little piece.

Anonymous said...

"There's also some stuff the ""Steelers can do in terms of play-action out of the shotgun. I can't tell you exactly what it is they worked on, but maybe you'll see it Sunday."

I know its not that big of a deal, but why even mention this stuff and risk letting them know? Maybe I'm too Belichikian, but I'd prefer not letting the other team know any little piece."

Are we seriously going through this AGAIN? Get off Dale's back.

kyle said...

"other teams have shown the ability to pressure our QB's with a 3 or 4 man rush."

not really. the bills had some success because Kyle Williams is good and Kemo was hurt. 3 or 4 man rushes aren't a big deal to this team because of the size of the o-line. Ngata on the other hand is a concern.

"I know its not that big of a deal, but why even mention this stuff and risk letting them know? "

As John said, don't worry about it. The Ravens aren't stupid. They aren't going to completely sell out on pass in the shotgun. Dale saying what he said, even if he were on national tv, wouldn't change anybody's practice habits. We, as fans, assume things are a lot more cloak and dagger than they are.

Patrick said...

look he can report all he wants. Thats his job and its nice insight. At the same time, this blog isn't limited access and as a fan, I don't want the other team even knowing what formations the Steelers might run.

The point of a play action is get the D to bite, if they know thats in the gameplan, do you see them biting?

Patrick said...

I'm including "freeze them" in "bite" fyi. (I can see the flurry of no its not, blah blah)

kyle said...

"I don't want the other team even knowing what formations the Steelers might run."

That's the thing. Teams don't use everything they practice. So the Ravens don't know anymore than they did yesterday (keeping open the remote possibility that they check here for a competitive advantage). If the Steelers run out of the shotgun the Ravens won't be caught off guard regardless. And if the Steelers don't do anything special out of the shotgun than the Ravens wasted time preparing. It's a net gain of zero no matter what happens.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, if you actually think the Ravens weren't already planning to see extra shotgun since the national media have been spouting about it all week, then I don't know what to tell you. I can see it already. Ravens win and you'll be blaming Dale's post. Steelers win and its in spite of Dale's post.

Patrick said...

no I obviously meant using the playaction out of the shotgun, not the shotgun itself (who knew teams run a shotgun!?)

and I also said, right at the start of this that "I know its not a big deal". Its just not something I would prefer to report on. And, I would almost expect that some teams have interns and the like looking for things - they do leading up to the draft.

one last thing, I don't why this is criticize Dale day, but you do continually say one season has nothing to do with the next. Here you are clearly referring to a game last season to make your point. Just saying.

joe said...

steelers vs ravens. the most physical, exciting football games of the entire nfl season. huge playoff implications, and yet, i'm not really excited about the game.
thanks to the nfl pansy big wigs

Dale Lolley said...

I didn't give anything away

ibygeorge said...

I hope you are right. I do not see BB playing the whole game. There a reason they call it football. Quick hitting passes including a big dose of Mendy catching inserted into their usual game plan will keep BB in the game longer. When Lefty comes in I expect long and deep to Wallace. This could get down to the kickers. I see this game as the Ravens to lose which they will, but barely.

Anonymous said...

Go Steelers! Get the W with no injuries,fines,suspensions,team record penalties or comments from the commissioner.

Anonymous said...

They rarely run from the gun. And their short drop passing game is even more non-existent. Ben always drops another 2-3 yards from his gun snap position. I don't see how playaction can possibly work for them unless Arians breaks both of those very strong tendencies.

Anonymous said...

The Ravens are just a lot of hot air!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Dale on this one, no huddle, spread em out, have a hot receiver like Mendenhall, Miller or Morre and run plenty out the spread as well with Ward blocking and Wallace tacking the safety out of the box. The no huddle needs to be used extensively no matter what the formation

Anonymous said...

Good Analysis but I am going to have to take the Ravens....Love the blog too.

-Reporter Jory
Sports Talk 202