The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will do battle for the second time in 2015 in Week 16 when Pittsburgh invades M&T Bank Stadium in the hopes of clinching a playoff spot for the second consecutive season. I was able to sit down with Nathan Beaucage from the Baltimore Beatdown (SB Nation's Ravens site) to discuss the upcoming game from the other side of the fence.
Take a look at the interview below, and be sure to check out Baltimore Beatdown for the best coverage on the upcoming game, from the Baltimore perspective.
The Ravens have been absolutely annihilated by injuries this season. My question isn't about the injuries themselves, but do you think this team had the make up to compete even if the main keys to this team weren't injured?
Compete? Yes. Super Bowl? Absolutely not. This team was simply too hyped up to begin the year. A decent offense with a sketchy secondary does not equate to a Super Bowl caliber team, as some thought. Without all of the injuries, I think you're looking at a +/- .500 team.
This is rare territory for Ravens fans, who are accustomed to seeing their team win and compete. Are fans rooting for draft picks, wanting a change in coaches or is it just being chalked up to "one of those years"?
For me, it is a combination of all three. First, of course I want to see the Ravens get a great draft pick for the first time in my fanhood. Ozzie Newsome is likely going to have to pick between an elite LT, CB, WR, or S in the draft. That to me, is quite thrilling. The fanbase is mostly fine with the coaching staff, with Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees being the exception. Many, myself included, are tired of his 'bend, but don't break' defenses that simply don't get the job done. It's a widespread belief that he has a lot of talent and simply isn't putting it to good use.
And of course, it's certainly "one of those years." It's very abnormal to have 18 players on the IR, most being starters. When you lose your starting QB, RB, and WR, you can certainly chalk it up to bad luck.
Most Ravens fans I talk to don't want to admit it, but it looks as if this is the beginning of the re-building process in Baltimore. Are you confident the team will be able to bounce back and contend in 2016, or are they still a few years away from being contenders once again?
Anyone who says the Ravens are"rebuilding" is overexaggerating. The Ravens have been in contention for so many years because of great coaches and front office stability. None of that has changed, and it shouldn't.
The main focus for the Ravens this offseason should be rebuilding the secondary. It's what has held the team back in the past, and it will continue to do so. The 'veteran minimum' signings that were brought in this offseason simply haven't done the job. It's quite clear that we need to either shell out money for a big free agent, or spend a high draft pick on a secondary prospect.
The Ravens are armed with plenty of young talent, a franchise quarterback, and one of the best front offices in the league. They'll be just fine, and anyone who says differently is in my mind, a "Debbie Downer."
There is a small contingent of Steelers fans who are concerned about a trap game against the Ravens. Give me a few reasons why the Ravens could be spoilers for the Steelers in Week 16, and put a dagger in their postseason hopes.
C'mon guys. Relax. I've already prepared for a loss, and even a good showing from my Ravens will leave me happy. You've got the league's hottest offense going up against a defense that has allowed 30+ points in three of their last four games. You'll be just fine.
But, if the Ravens were to win, it'd be for pride. Nothing more, nothing less. Despite the box scores, they've been playing their hearts out with what they've got, and that multiplies when the opponent is the blasted Steelers. It's also added motivation that the Ravens can crush the Steelers playoff dreams.
How do you see this game unfolding, and what is your prediction for the game?
The recipe for every Ravens' game of late has been the following:
- First quarter stalemate. do the Ravens actually have a chance in this one?
- big mistake from the offense
- other team scores
- other team scores again
- other team scores many more times
- final whistle blows
That's how I see this one going too. The Ravens make the game appear to be a contest in the first quarter, but blow it on a pick-six. Big Ben takes the momentum and roasts the Baltimore secondary repeatedly. 38-14, Pittsburgh on top.