NFL Predictions Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers Will Struggle vs. Baltimore Ravens
Is there a better rivalry in the NFL today than Steelers vs. Ravens? You'd have a tough time convincing me otherwise.
These two teams are perfect embodiments of the cities they represent: tough, blue-collar, and will absolutely scratch and claw until the very end.
And, they hate each other. Legitimately. Which is a fairly rare thing in the professional sports world today.
Historically, the Steelers have the edge over the Ravens, winning 19 of 30 matchups, all-time. The Ravens have, however, split the series at home, 7-7.
Why do I think Steelers could be in for a difficult afternoon on Sunday? Primarily, the health of James Harrison's back. From Dale Grdnic of FootballNewsNow.com:
Harrison said that he probably is playing at only at 75-80 percent, as far as his back is concerned after two offseason surgical procedures within a week. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t buying what Harrison was selling.
'I’d imagine that he’s sand-bagging,' Tomlin said. 'James Harrison likes to play, and we expect that James Harrison might play. … Jason Worilds has improved quite a bit, (and) Lawrence Timmons is an option (if Harrison’s back acts up).'
A less than 100% healthy James Harrison completely changes Pittsburgh's defense and decreases the effectiveness of the entire linebacker corps.
Playing at home, in front of a raucous Baltimore crowd, a dinged up Steelers defense should be enough of an edge for Ray Rice and the rest of the Ravens offense to control the clock, and ultimately the momentum of the game.
Score prediction: 27-24, Baltimore.
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