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Steelers vs. Ravens

Betting Line: Ravens -3 o/u 40

By

John J. Raspanti



The Steelers (8-3) and Ravens (8-3) clash in a battle for first place in the AFC North division. Both teams struggled to unimpressive victories last weekend. Pittsburgh nipped the lowly Buffalo Bills 19-16 in overtime, while Baltimore played a little better in defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-10. The 2010 version of the steel curtain is ranked second in the league in sacks with thirty-two, and sixth overall defensively. Their three headed monsters on defense, linebackers Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, and James Harrison have been outstanding.

Timmons leads the team with ninety tackles, while Harrison has collected ten sacks through eleven games. Running on the Steelers seems virtually impossible. They rank first in the NFL, giving up an average of 64 yards a game. Their defense hasn't been nearly as dominate against a team that wants to throw the ball. When Pittsburgh has the ball quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be looking to slice and dice the eighth ranked Ravens defense. Big Ben has completed 62 percent of his passes with twelve touchdowns. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has picked up 962 yards rushing and scored nine times. When Roethlisberger wants to go deep, he looks for Mike Wallace. The young wide receiver is averaging 22 yards a reception and has scored eight times. Cagey veteran Hines Ward has caught 40 balls, while tight end Health Miller has snagged 32.

The Ravens have won four of their last five and are looking to sweep the season series with the Steelers. Thirty-five year old Ray Lewis leads the Baltimore defense. The crusty old linebacker has recorded an astounding ninety-five tackles and two sacks. Safety Dawan Landry has seventy tackles while defensive tackle Terrell Suggs has 7.5 sacks.  

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Offensively, Baltimore's quarterback Joe Flacco in his third year is having his best season. Flacco has completed sixty-three percent of his throws with 18 of them going for touchdowns. Running back Ray Rice has gained 815 yards on the ground and caught 47 passes. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has snagged a team leading 51 passes, while veteran Derrick Mason has caught 45. Always dependable Todd Heap has thirty-one catches for 546 yards.

The Steelers and Ravens are dinged up on both sides of the ball. Ben Roethlisberger sprained his foot in the win against the Bills. Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain hurt his ankle blocking during a kickoff last Sunday. The Steelers have some issues in their secondary and offensive line. Baltimore's offensive stalled in the second half against the Buccaneers.

The last 3 games between these two teams were decided by a field goal. No reason to expect anything different this time around. The Steelers will have their hands full with the Ravens pass rush. Buffalo has no pass rush and managed to get to Big Ben 5 times last week. But in a game likely to be decided by a key turnover, the Steelers turnover margin of +10 looms large here when compared to the Ravens -2. We're going to go ahead and take +3 with the Steelers here in a game they need to have in the worst way, having lost to the Ravens once already. Steelers +3

Enjoy the game. When you look at all the games on the schedule this week, there's only two games that have two "good" teams facing each other. This one, and the Jets-Pats game. It's a result of the watered down product the NFL now presents. Games like this one are few and far in between. But this one is a must watch game for sure.

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