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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Who I like, Baltimore version 1.0

I was feeling very good about my Steelers pick of a 27-13 win at halftime last week. I figured the Steelers would start to slow things down and the Browns might get a score or two to get me right on my number.

And then . . .

So here we go again this week.

The Ravens are three-point favorites against the Steelers Thursday night in Baltimore in a series in which nine of the past 10 meetings have been decided by three points or less.

So basically, in this game, you just try to pick the winner and don't worry about points.

The Ravens, of course, have dealt with the self-induced distraction of the Ray Rice situation all week.

But as much as Rice's situation has been a distraction, it could also serve as a rallying point. Some teams have a way of rallying around these kind of situations.

I think the Steelers are a better team than Baltimore. Let's get that out of the way. Both teams have defensive issues.

Baltimore gave up 380 yards last week against Cincinnati at home and did little itself offensively until late in the game.

After fighting back to take a lead - after holding the Bengals to five field goals - the Ravens were beaten over the top by A.J. Green for a 77-yard game-winning score.

Joe Flacco was terrible in the game. Yes, he threw for 345 yards, but it took him 62 attempts to do so. And remember, one of his 35 completions was an 80-yard catch by Steve Smith.

Take that away and Flacco averaged 4.3 yards per passing attempt. As it was, his 5.56 yards per passing attempt. By comparison, Ben Roethlisberger averaged 10.74 yards per attempt in last week's win over Cleveland.

Can that change against the Steelers?

Certainly.

But something tells me the Ravens will be a desperate team this week. They can't afford to fall to 0-2 with a pair of home losses coming to division teams.

And they are playing at home while the Steelers must travel on a short week. Since the NFL began regularly playing games on Thursday nights in 2006, road teams are just 24-41, including a 1-2 record by the Steelers.

It's a difficult turnaround, even for a short flight.

The Steelers were forced to have a full practice Wednesday morning, instead of their usual travel-day walkthrough, just to make sure they got two days of practice in this week.

Because of that, I'm going to pick the Ravens to win this one, 26-23.

23 comments:

Steve-O said...

Both teams have a questions on defense, but I believe the Steelers have a better QB, a better starting RB, and some very promising WRs. In totality they are more explosive on offense than their Ravens counterparts. For that reason I think you got the score right but the winner wrong. I guess we'll see...

Anonymous said...

So I thought the Steelers were trying to move on from Ziggy Hood. Why sign his twin in Cam Thomas. He came away with a clean stat sheet and didn't generate any push. Stephon Tuitt couldn't possibly be worse than that. Even if he doesn't know what to do at times it would still have to be better than knowing what to do and not doing anything. I know it's early but they signed a veteran back up to be a starter on this team and I hope they don't treat this guy like he's on some sort of free agency scholarship. I know it's early but this has started out as one of those things that you look back on after the year is over and ask yourself how in the hell did they let (insert player) play so much.

marc said...

looking back at the ravens/bengals game last week, the two teams combined for 7 penalties. how is that possible? further, the bengals only had 1 penalty involving their DB's (pass interference). I don't expect that to be the case in Baltimore this week.

since flacco couldn't go deep (aside from the one bomb to smith) he targeted pitta/daniels/smith underneath the vast majority of the time. there is not much of a run threat from the ravens, so I see this coming down to pressuring flacco (so he doesn't have time for the deep balls) and avoiding penalties in the secondary. the steelers should be able to handle the underneath stuff just fine.

offensively, just keep doing what they did in the first half. diverse passing attack and good run blocking will put points on the board. the ravens did not register a sack against the bengals, by the way.

ultimately, I usually defer to the more desperate team, but the steelers also have a significant opportunity to jump out 2-0 against divisional opponents and then have extra rest for the panthers.

call me crazy, but Mitchell gets his first steeler's INT, they win by 10, and the ravens begin their journey down the toilet bowl.

Mark said...

@marc: Good point about the penalties. It does seem like a big part of Flacco's game is to chuck the ball deep, and hope that his receiver either wins the jump ball or gets bumped for defensive PI.

In years past, the Steelers DBs wouldn't turn around to look for the ball in the air. If they fail to do that, expect a lot of PI calls.

Theosa said...

I’m with Dale on this one. Steelers will lose this game because they cannot stop the run and Flacco is good at play action throws. I don’t think Steelers no huddle will be that effective on road in a loud stadium. Flacco’s yards/pass was low but he took what Bengals gave him, that is the underneath stuff , and Bengals are a very good defense. Ravens win 24-20.
On a side note, why not move McLondon to DE where he could be very effective and give McCullers a chance at NT? I know LeBeau Defense is complex but these guys play football all their lives and nose tackle assignments are not very complicated, shed the blocks, drive the tackles back, and stop the run. He has a large frame and wing span and could block the vision of QBs.

Anonymous Brian said...

I think if they don't get after Flacco, sacks, hits, etc., they lose.

Ravens - 34 Steelers - 21

Theosa said...

Baltimore Sun is predictting Steelers win 28-14. I guess there is not much confidence in home teams :)

Snarky said...

I could not have said it better than anon 5:44. Put Tuitt in.

D said...

While I do not believe the Ravens are all that good, I also do not believe our Defense is currently capable of stopping A, deep balls, B, no huddle. They will grow into it as season moves along, but NFL once against screws us by giving us Baltimore AWAY on a short week. It is ridiculous that has happened 2 yrs in a row now. Steelers lose 27-17. Still be better than the Rats at yrs' end tho I think.

datruth4life said...

Dale, do you think with McClendon suffering a stinger last week and Ravens expected to run the ball a lot that McCullers might be active against the Ravens? I know at least Wolf and Tunch have mentioned that they don't think he is quick enough right now to be effective against the zone stretch, but I think him occupying 2 of 3 blockers on each play, even if he just went up and down the line on those stretch plays, would at least clog up the cut back lanes and help Timmons and Shazier by keeping blockers off of them. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Steelers need to quit that "slow it down" NONSENSE, when they have a big lead. You know that NONSENSE that Pittsburgh people espouse. Well it's 2014, a 24 point half time lead is TOO SMALL to sit on, you need a few more TDs.

Anonymous said...

I have been seeing the calls for McCullers all over Steelers sites and I couldn't agree more. I'm by no means a McClendon hater, but the guy gets blocked 1-on-1 too often for a Pittsburgh NT. I get that McCullers is "raw" and whatnot but the tape doesn't lie, the big man takes up 2 blockers routinely.
Why would we not give him a hat if he can help us solidify the D-line. I guess the major thing holding him back is who do you deactivate on the DL in place of him...?
Bouchette says he thinks McCullers would tire too easily through a no-huddle attack but if Cam Thomas can tote up and down the field then I feel like McCullers can as well.

Turds of Misery said...

If the Steelers can stymie Flacco for a few series, the Ravens fans will start booing him and we've all seen Flacco fall apart when the Baltimore fans get on him. That will be the key to the Steelers' victory tomorrow night.

Anonymous 5:44 AM said...

McLendon is a good player and he played good that game. Timmons missed like 3 tackles or something, that's not McLendon's fault. You guys really have McCullers overvalued. The guy has done better than a lot of of thought he would have but he by no means "commands 2 or 3 blockers". Go back and watch him in the preseason he had his good games and his bad games. He is a true work in progress and has a good player ahead of him. Be realistic.

datruth4life said...

We all know McClendon is probably a better NT at this point than McCullers, but Big Dan can put his hand in the pile and help this team against the run. Just get out there and take the center (and any other lineman trying to block him) wherever Big Dan wants them to go. Even if he does nothing but give McClendon a blow and in turn McClendon plays some DE to help give Keisel a blow, it'd be worth it. Play all 6 DL to try and keep them fresh.

Anonymous 5:44 AM said...

McLendon is better than McCullers period. You guys act like McLendon is a freaking cancer. He's a good player and he's not going anywhere. Get over it.

"but Big Dan can put his hand in the pile and help this team against the run. Just get out there and take the center (and any other lineman trying to block him) wherever Big Dan wants them to go"

That doesn't actually happen in reality. That's what you guys believe he does because of his size listing. You're not actually watching anything you're just talking. McCullers surprisingly was weak when it came to pushing the pile and surprised in his lateral movement. he's the opposite of what the perception of him is right now.

Michael Rice said...

30-10 Steelers.

marc said...

Anon 5:54,
I agree regarding McCullers to a certain extent. He definitely needs work and that's why I'm hoping he rounds into form for next year. However, I would not call him weak. He has difficulty gaining leverage because of his size. If he learns how to do that then watch out, the guy will be a beast.

Regarding McClendon, I do not feel he would start at NT for any other 3-4 team in the league.

Snarky said...

McClendon does'nt get any respect because Steeler fans have been spoiled with Joel Steed followed by Casey Hampton. He can't help it he's following 20 years worth of perrenial pro bowl nose tackles. McClendon is a solid starter but he's not the dominant force those 2 were.

Anonymous said...

McClendon is an OK nose tackle. The problem is that you need at least one stud player on your dline. A rock the other guys can play around. Instead we have a few average and some below average guys.

Anonymous said...

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-price-of-loyalty-in-pittsburgh/

Dale Lolley said...

McCullers isn't ready to contribute yet. McClendon was fine last week. Cam Thomas not so much. That could lead to more snaps for Keisel and Tuitt. The Ravens don't run a lot of no huddle. Just 16 snaps last week against Cinci in a game in which they trailed most of the game

Anonymous said...

looks like youre on spot with your ravens prediction

sadly you gave the steelers offense way too much credit. on to carolina....