Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Date: Nov. 18, 2012
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
SB Nation Ravens Site: Baltimore Beatdown
Match-ups: Steel City Insider
TV Schedule: NBC, Sunday Night Football
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Radio stream: Steelers Radio Network WDVE-FM (102.5)/WBGG-AM (970)
Odds: Ravens -3.5
Weather: 42 degrees with winds ESE at six m.p.h.
Say what you will about the absence of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in this game. While the Steelers are 0-4 when Roethlisberger doesn't play in this game, the fact is any Ravens blowout win came with him under center. The Steelers were a play or two away from winning those games.
And this team could be better than them in a non-Roethlisberger starting situation.
All the obvious signs point to a Steelers ground-n-pound running attack, which means that's likely what Baltimore expects. The most compelling aspect of this game isn't simply that Roethlisberger won't play; it's the Ravens having lost another cornerback, and the declining play of free safety Ed Reed. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Steelers challenge Reed early deep and outside the numbers, but more than anything, working both Reed and cornerbacks in zone on deep crossing routes.
Baltimore attacked Oakland vertically, forcing their overwhelmed secondary into mistakes, which led to big plays. The Ravens have the weapons to attack the Steelers in the same fashion, but the Steelers are much more disciplined of a defensive secondary than the Raiders. They'll give up underneath routes for the sake of preventing the big play. Suffocate the run, and make this game competitive.
Special teams will absolutely be a factor in this game. Sam Koch is one of the best punters in the league and has always been an effective weapon in these games, where field position is critical. Jacoby Jones has been an outstanding free agent acquisition for this team, more for his punt returning ability than anything.
Baltimore felt pretty good about their chances of beating Kansas City (a team that gave both the Ravens and the Steelers all they could handle) and Houston (who savaged the hapless Ravens). Even the Browns gave them a game. Surely, Brandon Weeden is no Ben Roethlisberger, either.
This game is, by no means, a sure thing for the favored Ravens.
Never doubt "Us Against The World."