When fans hear Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens, visions of hard-hitting blood baths come to mind. As the two teams prepare to face one another for the first time in 2015 on Thursday Night Football, those images begin to dance around football fans' heads once again.
With Ben Roethlisberger out of the lineup and Michael Vick in, as well as Terrell Suggs out of the lineup, I decided to track down Nathan Beaucage of Baltimore Beatdown (SB Nation's Ravens website) to discuss the game from those on the purple side of the fence.
Enjoy hearing from a Ravens contributor as to who wins the game, and why.
The Ravens are 0-3, coming to Pittsburgh for a Prime Time game and Jerome Bettis is being honored at halftime to turn an already hyped crowd into a frenzy. Even without Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup, how confident are you in the Ravens being able to claim their first victory at Heinz Field in Week 4?
Somewhat confident actually. To me, it's a perfect mismatch for the Ravens. While the secondary has been shredded to pieces these past two weeks, I have a hard time imagining that Michael Vick can do so too. Given that the Ravens run defense has improved and is looking better as we go, I'd say that the Ravens can hold off Le'Veon enough to give the offense enough times to get the ball and stay ahead.
Baltimore has been a mixed bag of goods throughout the first three games of the season. What has plagued the Ravens throughout the early portion of 2015?
Awful play calling and secondary play. The Ravens lost their last two games by letting the opposition air it out and get the go-ahead game winning touchdown. It's pretty sickening to see the Ravens have the lead in the final minutes, and then watch the opponent march down the field and score like clockwork.
The secondary isn't communicating at all and looks dazed and confused. The play calling from Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees isn't helping either. If you saw that image of the Ravens lined up 10 yards off the line of scrimmage in single coverage against A.J. Green in the red zone, you know what I mean. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Wondering what the hell Dean Pees is doing seems to be an annual pastime in Baltimore, and his play calling often leaves me angry and confused.
So yeah, if this team wants to turn it around, something has got to give. Either Pees goes, or the players start communicating better and Pees makes better calls.
This 0-3 start is the first true adversity the Ravens have experienced under John Harbaugh. How confident is the fan base that he, and Joe Flacco, will be able to right the ship and turn this team into AFC North division contenders by the end of the year?
I'm not thinking about the playoffs, and I don't think the team is either. The Ravens simply have to win, and nothing else. If they win, everything will fall into place. Making the playoffs may be a tall task, especially with the AFC becoming even more competitive every year. I'm not getting any hopes up for a playoff berth, but until the Ravens are statistically eliminated, everything is possible. You'd be foolish to rule the Ravens out yet, and they are better than their record shows.
The Ravens know exactly what it is like to lose a key player to injury, with the loss of Terrell Suggs in Week 1. What have the Ravens done to compensate for Suggs' absence in the defensive front seven, and has it been effective?
Well, not exactly. The Ravens had excellent depth behind Terrell, but they didn't really step up. Elvis Dumervil looks a little lost at times without his buddy, Courtney Upshaw really makes you scratch your head sometimes, and we've yet to see much of the rookie Za'Darius Smith or the veteran acquisition Jason Babin for the Ravens.
Hopefully these guys will show up sooner rather than later, and that certainly seems like the case. Although when you've got talented pass rushers all around, like Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Williams, and C.J. Mosley, the loss of Suggs isn't that bad.
Most think of the Ravens and Steelers as low-scoring games which come down to the bitter end; however, in 2014 both games were settled be a 20-point difference. How do you see this game playing out (high scoring or low scoring) and what is your prediction for this Thursday Night Football game?
It's a Ravens-Steelers game, and while we haven't seen a defensive battle lately in this series, we might (sort of) be in for one Thursday. The Ravens offense will be solid, they aren't going to set the league on fire, but they can put up points. For the Steelers, I also expect a sort of mediocre offensive attack, especially on the heels of last week's 12-point performance. Michael Vick will certainly be the biggest variable, but he can probably get through the Raven secondary for a touchdown toss or two, but also might throw a key pick or two. Perhaps Le'Veon Bell adds one touchdown on the ground too.
With all of that said, I have the Ravens coming out on top 27-20.
No matter what happens, you know it's going to be good when these two teams meet.
For more insight on the Ravens as this game approaches, visit Nathan and the other contributors at Baltimore Beatdown.