Steelers vs. Ravens: 5 Keys for the Baltimore Ravens at Home in Week 13
Week 13 is a big one for the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only are they returning to M&T Bank Stadium after a successful road trip, which included a West Coast pit stop, but they're playing their archrivals and have a chance to clinch the division with a win as well as a Cincinnati Bengals loss.
After taking down the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11 at Heinz Field, there is no reason to believe the same cannot be done in their Week 13 contest.
While you can never count the Steelers out—since it is one of the NFL's best rivalries—this is one the Ravens must have.
Here are five keys to a Ravens victory in Week 13.
Tighten Up the Offensive Line
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Ben Roethlisberger may be out and the offense may be struggling mightily for the Steelers, but the defense is still one of the best in the league.
James Harrison has been excellent for Pittsburgh in the last few games and we all know that the Ravens' offensive line has been like a sieve.
The running game had been shut down completely until Ray Rice was able to put up 97 yards last week and Joe Flacco continues to take sacks that cost the team seven or more yards.
The offensive line will have to step up against one of the league's best defenses this week if the Ravens want to score some points.
Stay Aggressive on Offense
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Did anyone else notice the the difference between the Ravens offense in the first three quarters and the fourth quarter on?
Joe Flacco was incredible late in the game, finding a variety of receivers to march downfield and bring his team back. He was able to do it again late in overtime to ensure his team would emerge victorious in San Diego.
While he is typically better at home anyway, against a stifling pass defense from the Steelers, utilizing the no-huddle offense may be necessary to find a hole or two.
Stop the Run
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Pittsburgh will be starting its third-string quarterback.
Baltimore has the 25th-ranked run defense.
That seems like a recipe for the Steelers to run the ball to me.
Today's game will be about Baltimore stuffing the run and forcing the aging Charlie Batch to try to beat the Ravens through the air.
Forcing a few fumbles wouldn't be all that bad, either. After all, the Steelers have been giving them away in recent weeks.
Keep the Pass Rush Coming
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The return of Terrell Suggs has had an incredible impact on this Ravens defense.
Not only has he picked up a few sacks since coming back early, but as teams game-plan for one of the most fearsome pass-rushers in football, his teammates have also reaped the rewards.
Take Paul Kruger, for instance, who hadn't been very successful rushing the passer this season, yet all of a sudden has four sacks in his last three games.
Kruger now has 5.5 sacks on the season (ties his career high from last year).
Stat of the day: In games that Paul Kruger has recorded a sack, the Ravens have not lost this season.
It's not just Kruger, either. Over the last three games, the Ravens have averaged four QB sacks.
That needs to happen again today.
Win the Battle for Field Position
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Sam Koch had an uncharacteristically poor game last week in San Diego.
When going up against a team like Pittsburgh, with a stingy defense, but a poor offense, field position will be crucial.
If the Ravens can continually pin Charlie Batch and the Steelers inside of their 20-yard line, they'll have a great shot at keeping the Steelers off the scoreboard.
Stopping the Steelers in their own end would also give the Ravens offense much better field position, which is key, as first downs may be tough to squeeze out of this Steelers defense.
With Sam Koch being one of the league's best punters and Justin Tucker being a tremendous rookie kicker, the Ravens should be able to utilize field position to keep Pittsburgh off the board and put up some points of their own.