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Friday, November 16, 2012

Who I like, Baltimore version I

This is a game where Todd Haley is going to earn his money.

The Steelers went 3-1 a couple of years ago without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback to open the season. The only loss came to the Ravens.

But that Baltimore team was far different from this one.

These Ravens can't play a lick of defense - until they get to the red zone. Baltimore ranks 27th in the league in total defense - 26th versus the run and the pass - but is first in touchdown percentage allowed in the red zone at 36.1 percent.

This is where Byron Leftwich can actually make a difference.

With his big arm, Leftwich is the best deep passer on the Steelers' roster. And with Baltimore missing both Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith - two of its top three corners - the Steelers figure to take some deep shots with Mike Wallace.

Last week, Kansas City doubled Wallace most of the time and played press coverage on Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. It worked on the wet, windy night.

The Steelers will be without Antonio Brown again this week, which hurts, but Sanders and Cotchery should have some success working against the likes of Chykie Brown and Corey Graham.

Then there is this. Joe Flacco's home/road splits are awful.

In five home games, Flacco has thrown for 1,612 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, a passer rating of 108.3. On the road, those numbers fall to 719, three touchdowns and four interceptions, a rating of 62.7.

That is a big difference.

I think Haley will tailor his play calling to Leftwich's strengths. attack the line of scrimmage with Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, and get just enough of this offense to pick up a win this week.

If the game was in Baltimore, I'd feel differently. But it's not.

The Steelers are now 4-point underdogs in this game, but I think they'll win it outright, 17-16.

@ Plenty of people are asking what's up with Troy Polamalu.

The answer is simple, nothing.

The Steelers rushed Polamalu back after a two-week hiatus earlier in the season and he didn't make it through a quarter before aggravating his calf injury.

With Will Allen playing well in Polamalu's place, the Steelers are being patient and allowing their All-Pro safety time to fully heal.

They would much rather have a healthy Polamalu out there disrupting things than put him out there too early again and lose him for the season.


adamg said...

Dale, just curious, but do you think Troy was rushed back because the first game was in Denver and they were already going be without Ryan Clark?

Dale Lolley said...

I think that played a part in it

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard much discussion this week about the way KC ran right down Ziggy's throat play after play. Do you see anyone supplanting him anytime soon, or is it really not his fault and there is a bigger problem that us casual fans don't pick up on?

Anonymous said...

Did we activate a 3rd Quarterback? I don't know if Lefty and Batch can make it through a game upright. As long as Leftwich doesn't try to run, we should be ok.

Mrs. Isaac Redman

marc said...

so many injuries make this game very unpredictable. therefore, i say the team with the better QB will win, and this time around it's the ravens.

Steve-O said...

Rashard Mendenhall has had his struggles with this team but given their injuries the Ravens defense isn't what it used to be. I'm guessing they keep the pressure up front. Both to contain Mendenhall and to force Leftwich into quick/short passes. I guess we'll see if that long windup baseball pitching arm of Leftwich has what it takes.

My prediction:

The defense will hold the Ravens down 14 or less and I say Leftwich does just enough to win.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know that Ziggy is the only problem there. The Steelers play team run defense.
If it were as simple as Ziggy not getting the job done, they would simply put somebody else in there.
Also, they were much better in the second half against KC than they were in the first. Everyone stayed in their gaps better