Ravens vs. Steelers: Great Defense Is Only Hope for Pittsburgh Victory
Without their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh's offense will be a shell of its normal self and that will make it vital for Mike Tomlin's squad to play great defense in order to win this game.
Replacing Big Ben will be Charlie Batch, and as we all know, Batch is no Roethlisberger. The 37-year-old proved that last week in a losing effort against the lowly Cleveland Browns in which Batch threw three interceptions and failed to get his team into the end zone.
Things aren't likely to get any easier this week against the Ravens. With Batch obviously struggling and not being able to produce like Roethlisberger, the Ravens can focus on shutting down the only viable facet of the Steelers' offense, which is their running game.
That will certainly make things very tough for Jonathan Dwyer and whatever other running back is carrying the ball for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers defense will be without linebacker Lamarr Woodley this week, but they will welcome the return of their star safety, Troy Polamalu (per ESPN.com). That significant addition will help the Steelers make some plays on the defensive end, namely in their secondary.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will not have as easy a time as he did in the team's last meeting with the Steelers now that Polamalu is back on the field. Flacco has certainly proven to be mistake prone during his career, and Pittsburgh must take advantage of that to win.
Plus, Flacco hasn't thrown a pick in two weeks, and that makes him due for at least one in Week 13. If the opportunity presents itself for the Steelers to force a turnover, they must capitalize on it as field position will reign supreme in this game.
If they can eradicate Flacco and the Ravens passing attack, the Steelers can make stopping Ray Rice and Baltimore's rushing attack the primary focus. Should the Steelers find success in that approach, yardage and touchdowns will be hard to come by for the Ravens.
Pittsburgh has one of the best all-around defenses in the NFL. The Steelers are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 5 against the pass and run, respectively, so there is no doubt this team is more than capable of making this a defensive showdown.
The Ravens are normally strong defensively, but 2012 has been a different story as Baltimore ranks No. 23 and 26 against the pass and run, respectively. However, those numbers should get a boost with the Steelers playing at less than full strength.
Should the Steelers keep this game a low-scoring, defensive affair, that will give them the best opportunity to knock off the Ravens on Sunday.
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