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Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburg Steelers

Betting Line: Steelers -1 o/u 34.5

By

John J. Raspanti

Ben who? The Steelers are 3-0 without their beleaguered quarterback. Dennis Dixon had started the first two games but then injured his knee in week two. Coach Mike Tomlin tapped Charlie Batch who hadn't started an NFL game in almost three years. Charlie Batch? Yes...Batch completed 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and tied his career high with three touchdown passes in what can only be called an admirable performance. He was aided greatly by running back Rashard Mendenhall who slashed through the Buccaneers defense for 143 yards on 19 carries. Wide receiver Mike Wallace has become the Steelers deep threat, catching three passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Hines Ward chipped in with three catches as the Steelers completely overwhelmed the Bucs 38-13. The Steelers defense has been very stingy this year. It's like the Steelers are playing with a chip on their shoulder and...it shows. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons leads the team with thirty tackles while strong safety Troy Polamalo has two interceptions. The Steelers team defense has racked up ten sacks and picked off five passes through the first three games.

Are you nervous Joe Flacco? The 2-1 Ravens offense has been a bit spotty this year, as has quarterback Flacco who has only completed 54 percent of his passes and has thrown 5 interceptions. Flacco bounced back nicely against the Browns with three touchdown passes. Running back Ray Rice hurt his knee and will probably play but how effective will he be? Willis McGahee can step in but he is averaging only 2.3 yards per carry. Star wide receiver Anquan Boldin gained 142 yards on 8 catches last week and scored three touchdowns. The Ravens offense needs to step it up against the Steelers, maybe gamble a bit more and hope to hit a big play or two. The Raven defense has been solid this year lead by vetren Ray Lewis who has collected 21 tackles this year. Safety Dawan Laundry had 7 tackles and a sack last week as did outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. 

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To win the Ravens must play their best game of the season. The game is in Pittsburg where the Steelers are universally tough, Joe Flacco can't make any costly mistakes -- see interceptions, but as I said he needs to hit some deep throws to keep the Steelers honest. The Ravens must pressure Charlie Batch's and make him force passes. They need turnovers. The Steelers will run Mendenhall and methodically attempt to move down the field.

It's too early  to rely on stats such as yard per point but they can still give you a glimpse into a teams strengths and weaknesses. Everyone knew going in that the Ravens defense would be good. What this team needed to do was beef up the offense. If they were able to do that, it would be a scary team. They made some key moves in the off season to do just that, but so far, it simply hasn't paid off. Their offensive ypp number is among the worst in the league at 20.6. Their defense is a respectable 18. The Steelers however, are cruising right along with a 12 on offense and a whopping 25.3 defensively, among the best in the NFL on both sides of the ball.

Key Stat - Steelers +6 in turnover margin and Ravens -6

With that in mind, and with the number on this game basically pick em, at Pittsburgh -1, we have to back the Steelers here to simply win the game straight up. The Ravens will likely turn things around. But until they at least show signs of being able to do that, we're against them. Steelers -1

 

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