The Pittsburgh Steelers head into hostile territory Thursday night and one of the marquee matchups to watch will be Steelers' All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown lining up against Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardardius Webb.
Although Webb doesn't carry the same amount of name recognition as Joe Haden who lined up on Brown in Week 1, this match-up could be the difference-maker in this AFC North battle.
Webb is dealing with a back injury and he's listed as questionable on the injury report, but Webb has a history of playing in these big AFC North games despite injury. If Webb is indeed out of the lineup, the attention would then go to the Ravens' cornerback Chykie Brown or Jimmy Smith taking over the duties of covering one of the best receivers in the NFL today.
The Ravens and Webb have done a decent job of controlling Brown in the past. In 2013, Brown was held to six catches for 50 yards and was targeted seven times throughout the first game between the Ravens and Steelers. That was one of Brown's lowest yardage outputs for the entire season.
In the second matchup, Brown was held to five receptions with 59 yards and was targeted eight times throughout that Thanksgiving night game.
Antonio Brown is the workhorse of the receiving corps and, when he's running on all cylinders, the Steelers offense remains balanced and this ultimately opens up opportunities for players like Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller, Justin Brown and even Le'Veon Bell out of the backfield.
Whether Webb plays or not will be a crucial factor in this match-up, but it would be prudent for the Steelers to get the ball to Brown early and often and let him use his speed and elusiveness to make plays downfield in hopes of helping the Steelers steal a win on the road against the Ravens.