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5 reasons the Steelers will beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9

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The AFC North battle will be broadcast on NBC's Sunday Night Football. It should be one of the best Steelers games this season. Here's how they can win it.

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Because Mean Joe Says So

You don't lose games in which you retire the jersey number of the best player in franchise history. That's just how it works (it's in the Geneva Convention). Any player wearing a Steelers jersey should have been made aware of the legacy of Greene and all of them should have an incredible level of respect. If the Steelers' defense doesn't come to play, they should be ashamed of themselves. If there ever was a game they should be up for, it's this one.

Weakened Ravens Secondary

Baltimore has typically done an outstanding job of turning weaknesses into strengths. That can only be done by altering the opponent's scheme in another way. Expect Baltimore to count on its powerful pass rush to protect its ailing secondary, but the Steelers have done an excellent job in pass protection the last few weeks. The offensive line is starting to come together to a high degree and that, in turn, will allow the passing game to pick apart the Ravens' coverage. They don't have the athletes to stick with the Steelers' receivers, so Ben Roethlisberger just needs the time to be able to do it.

All About the Pass

Baltimore will no doubt want to run the ball and control the clock. Pittsburgh's run defense has looked markedly improved over the last seven quarters of play (they were gashed on the ground by Houston, one of the league's best running games). They'll face an outstanding rushing team in the Ravens, but this game will see the return of Steve McLendon and possibly even the absence of defensive end Cam Thomas. Rookie Stephon Tuitt has played well since Thomas was moved to nose tackle in McLendon's absence. He has been good enough that sending him from the starting lineup to the bench isn't the best course of action. Mixing in snaps for rookie Dan McCullers seems like a better idea as well. Win on early downs and set up third-and-long. The pressure the Steelers can bring may end up being the difference in this game.

Blitzburgh

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has hurt the Steelers when they've blitzed, but it's a game plan Pittsburgh will continue to use. The key is in disguise and subtlety. These teams have played each other often enough that little should surprise either of them, but when a linebacker who usually rushes in certain situations suddenly drops into a passing lane, that's when turnovers happen. Pittsburgh simply cannot allow Flacco to complete passes as often as he has against the Steelers in their last few meetings. They'll have to mix things up a bit and try to get in Flacco's head. That used to be a recipe for success.

Get the Ball to Bell

Even as good as Baltimore's defense is, running back Le'Veon Bell needs to be the Steelers' primary weapon. They need to make the Ravens' linebackers move with Bell as he threatens the flat in the passing game, which can help open up the seam down the middle for the Steelers' shorter passing game. Baltimore will play almost exclusively in zone with a spy on Bell, and that will occupy an extra defender in certain situations. Getting Bell the ball short and making the Ravens pursue him wide will help open up coverage down the field.