Ahh, Christmas Day! I absolutely love spending the day with my immediate family and cherished friends. Even those extended family members who grate on me don't seem so bad on December 25th. Ever since I can recall, my Christmases have always featured black and gold colors, along with the traditional ravishing reds and gregarious greens. But this year, far worse than any annoying in-law, Steeler Nation is adding black and purple to Christmas Day by sharing it with the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, you know 'em and you loathe 'em. But here's a refresher just in case.
Baltimore fans always seem to be dissatisfied with this guy, even though he led them to an NFL championship (sounds familiar). Personally, I can't stand him. I find him condescending, arrogant, smug, childish...basically a Harbaugh. But I'm remiss if I don't recognize that he’s an excellent coach, strategist and personnel manager. He consistently wins with lesser talent and motivates his team. He is 8-6 on the year and 11-9 all time versus the Steelers (including playoffs). Most recently, he’s led his team to four straight wins over Pittsburgh. He will prepare this team to no end and convince them that the world is ending tomorrow, so they think they’ve only got one more chance to beat the Steelers.
Some Other Ravens Coaches to know: OC-Marty Mornhinweg, DC Dean Pees.
QB-No. 5 Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco is an efficient quarterback. When he plays Pittsburgh though, he elevates himself to another level. Against the Steelers, he may only have an 9-7 record, but he has thrown 19 touchdowns against eight picks. Flacco throws an exceptional deep ball and along with Steve Smith Sr, he now has deep threats Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Kamar Aiken at his disposal, making him even more dangerous. This year, Flacco has 19 touchdowns opposite his 13 interceptions and has thrown for 3,788 yards and a 64.6 completion percentage. The Steelers need to find a way to knock Flacco down early to disrupt his game.
Some Other Ravens Quarterbacks to know: No. 15 Ryan Mallett
No. 17 Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace beat his former team earlier in the season with a 95-yard touchdown catch-and-run. The Steelers need to be aware of his game-breaking speed all day long. On the year, Wallace is averaging 15 yards per catch and has 64 catches for 963 yards and four TDs.
No. 89 Steve Smith Sr.
Smith is an ageless wonder who plays with a high level of animosity. He and former teammate, Mike Mitchell, definitely are not the best of friends. In fact, they’re good for a scuffle every time they meet. In 2016, Smith Sr. has 60 grabs for 686 yards and four scores. He caught four for 47 yards against Pittsburgh at M&T in November. Smith has never lost against the Steelers as a Raven and typically snags a backbreaking catch against them. It’s time that he tastes sour defeat against Pittsburgh.
Some Other Ravens Receivers to know: No. 10 Chris Moore, No. 11 Kamar Aiken, No. 12 Michael Campanaro, No. 18 Breshad Perriman
No. 28 Terrance West
West, the local kid drafted by Cleveland out of Towson in 2014, has been holding down the No. 1 running back job for his hometown team, rushing for 729 yards, five scores and 4.1 yards per carry. However, he has been losing some carries to the stout rookie from Louisiana Tech, Kenneth Dixon. Dixon has 66 carries for 281 yards and one TD. Pro Bowl FB Kyle Juszczyk will open holes for both runners.
Some Other Ravens Running Backs to know: No. 30 Kenneth Dixon, No. 37 Javorius “Buck” Allen, No. 44 Kyle Juszczyk
No. 88 Dennis Pitta
Pitta, an alternate for the Pro Bowl, is back to form in Baltimore. A dangerous weapon and chain-mover for Joe Flacco, Pitta has two scores and 553 yards on 67 catches in 2016. The 6'4" TE from BYU has 14 career receptions against the Steelers and he’s the kind of offensive threat they need to key on, especially on third downs.
Some Other Ravens Tight Ends to know: No. 80 Crockett Golmore, 84 Darren Waller, No. 86 Nick Boyle
LG- No. 73 Marshall Yanda
Downright physical and nasty, Yanda is the class of a stable line in Baltimore. A 6-time Pro-Bowler after this year’s selection, the 10-year vet will line up now at LG for the Ravens. Yanda is a key factor in protecting Flacco and opening lanes for the young backs.
Some Other Ravens Offensive Linemen to know: No. 53 C Jeremy Zuttah, No. 62 G Vlad Ducasse, No. 64 G John Urschel, No. 66 G/C Ryan Jensen, No. 71 RT Rick Wagner, No. 72 LG Alex Lewis, No. 74 T James Hurst, No. 79 RT Ronnie Stanley
No. 93- NT Brandon Williams
Williams is powerful, athletic and quick for a big guy. He moves all around and is tough to block. An immovable object at 6'1 and 340 lbs., the Raven NT has 20 tackles and a sack this year. Couple this Pro Bowl alternate with mammoth rookie, Michael Pierce, and there isn't much room for anybody to get through.
No. 57-LB C.J. Mosley
Mosley is the quarterback of Baltimore’s defense, making all of the calls. He excels in all situations. He plays the run and pass very well, as evidenced by his 72 tackles and seven pass defenses on the year. Although not the legend and verbal standout that is Terrell Suggs, Mosley is the heart and soul of the Baltimore defense and has been selected to his second Pro Bowl.
Some Other Ravens Front Seven to know: No 50 LB Albert McClellan, No. 51 Kamalei Correa, No. 54 ILB Zachary Orr, No. 55 OLB Terrell Suggs (Pro Bowl Alternate), No. 58 LB Elvis Dumervil, No. 78 DL Michael Pierce, No. 90 LB Za'Darius Smith, No. 91 LB Matthew Judon, No. 93 DL Lawrence Guy, No. 96 DE Brent Urban, No. 99 DL Timmy Jernigan
No. 22-RCB Jimmy Smith
This season, Smith doesn't have any picks and has four pass defenses. However, the 6'2" Smith is a physical press-coverage corner and the best cover man on the Ravens. The Ravens are keeping quiet on who will be trying to contain Brown, but it would not be a surprise if they kept Smith on AB, especially with Tavon Young being a rookie.
Some Other Ravens DBs to know: No. 21 FS Ladarius Webb, No. 24 LCB Shareece Wright, No. 26 CB Jerraud Powers, No. 32 SS Eric Weddle (PromBowl Alternate), No. 33 SS Matt Elam, No. 36 LCB Tavon Young, No. 41 S Anthony Levine Sr., No. 42 S Marqueston Huff
No. 9-K Justin Tucker
I realize my disdain for the Ravens has been well-documented, but I cannot in good conscience fail to recognize greatness. Justin Tucker is becoming the most outstanding kicker ever to play the game of football. In his career, Tucker is 28/40 in field goals over 50 yards. He just tied the record for most plus-50-yard FGs in one season with ten. Tucker will get opportunities and he rarely misses. He is 33/34 on the year and has just been named to his second Pro Bowl.
Some Other Ravens Special Teamers to know: No. 4 P Sam Koch, No. 10 Chris Moore, No. 12 Michael Campanaro, No. 46 LS Morgan Cox