Week 16 Steelers @ Ravens Preview and Prediction


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Photo recreated by Brian C. Jenkins/itsasteelersworld.com

They are all professionals. And when the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens (4-10) this Sunday, it will definitely be anything but easy. Because nothing would be better in Baltimore’s eyes than to play spoiler to their much hated AFC North rivals.

For the third straight week, Baltimore will host a playoff contender that needs to win out to clinch a postseason berth. So far, the Ravens are 0-of-2 playing the role of spoiler after losing by a combined 69-20 margin to the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs in the past two weeks. And it isn’t about to get any easier for them..enter Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are by far one of, if not the hottest team in the National Football League right now..no one wants to play them. Even the likes of the Carolina Panthers (14-0) aren’t nearly as scary as Pittsburgh. Why? Because the Panthers have been hovering at the top since week one and are due for a bump in the road before season’s end. The New York Giants almost flattened their tires this past Sunday in a 38-35 loss in the closing seconds of the game.

Pittsburgh, however are getting hot..as usual..at the right moment. Coming off an impressive performance against the NFL’s top defense, the Steelers are hoping to continue to ride their hot streak and high-powered offense to a postseason berth.

Roethlisberger has been playing unconscious during this stretch, throwing for an average of 365.8 yards and 13 touchdowns. Since scoring its season low in a 16-10 loss to Cincinnati in Week 8, Pittsburgh is averaging 35.0 points and league-high 474.5 yards while scoring more than 30 in six straight games for the first time in the franchise’s 82-year history.

Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL with 1,586 receiving yards, totaled 64 receptions, 868 yards and six touchdowns over his last six games. Martavis Bryant has 32 catches and 497 yards in his past five, while Markus Wheaton has a touchdown in three of his last four.

The Ravens had a promising start to their Week 15 clash with the Chiefs. After Jimmy Clausen hit Kyle Juszczyk for a 1 yard score to tie the game at 7-7, Baltimore looked to have been gaining control of the game. After forcing a Chiefs punt, the Ravens the drove the ball into Kansas City territory and looked poised to take the lead.

But then disaster struck, and the game quickly got away from Baltimore. Ravens running back Buck Allen fumbled the ball, and Chiefs safety Tyvon Branch recovered it and returned it for a touchdown. Sunday could lead to the Ravens worst finish in eight years, but sweeping the Steelers would go a long way toward diminishing the pain and disappointment.

Baltimore is also taking the ‘high road’ into this week 16 matchup, unlike the Bengals and Denver Broncos did in circumstances weeks..praising the Steelers and their explosive offensive style of play.

  Linebacker C.J. Mosley on if the Steelers’ offense is one of the most explosive in the league:

“Oh yeah, definitely. They’re definitely close, if not leading the league. I’m sure they’re top five in explosive plays. Ben (Roethlisberger) does a great job of making great throws and we all see that he’s very hot right now throwing to his receivers. Especially, with (Antonio) Brown making plays and (Martavis) Bryant and (Markus) Wheaton and those guys. So, that’s definitely going to be a main focus for us. We have to make sure we play top-down coverage.”

> Coach John Harbaugh on if the Steelers offense is one of the biggest playmaking offenses in the NFL:

“Certainly. They’ve done a great job of setting up their scheme that way. It’s not that they can’t do the other things either. They run the ball. They throw the controlled pass as well as anybody. Big Ben has bene on fire lately with his accuracy. They have numerous playmakers out there, and their coaches do a great job with those guys. I would say the answer to that is a resounding yes.”

Reverse psychology? Perhaps. Because the last thing the Ravens want to do is give the Steelers anymore fuel, which Bengals LB, Vontaze Burfict and Broncos S, T.J. Ward found out the hard way.

5 KEYS TO VICTORY:

1) Establish The Run Early: With RB, DeAngelo Williams who was basically non-existent last week versus DenHereWeGo k to him getting anywhere from 15 to 25 carries.

2) Don’t Get Beat Deep: The only way this will be accomplished is if Coach Mike Tomlin reconsiders and decides to start corner, Brandon Boykin over the sketchy play of Antwon Blake. But since that may not happen look to the continued rotation.

3) Put Pressure On QB: Jimmy Clausen will once again get the start. Pressure from the edge rushers and the occasional safety/corner blitz disguising the coverage will get him to throw ill advised passes which can lead to much needed turnovers.

4) Protect The Ball: Turnovers are a game killer as we all know. Fumbles have come at a minimum, any interceptions have appeared on occasions. Ball security is key in any game, but this game in particular is extremely vital.

5) Keep Big Ben Upright: The offensive line has done a great job of this all season long. Keeping Roethlisberger on his feet instead of his back gives him the opportunity to locate and hit his wife array of receivers.

PREDICTION:

Steelers 33
Ravens 20

14 of those points will be scored on Blake..if Tomlin keeps him in after the first one. Let’s hope he decides wisely. #HereWeGo #MerryChristmas