Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gameday: Baltimore Ravens

The Town the Built A Statue of A Murderer
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates

Didn't we just get done playing a group of assholes that was getting way too much media attention? Seems like that just happened yesterday. For all intents and purposes, it pretty much did. Short weeks and quick turnarounds suck, especially coming off an emotionally draining win over a division opponent. But it's Ravens week so...

What To Watch For

1. Up Tempo No Huddle

I know it, you know it, the Steelers know it and the Ravens know it. The Steelers can't defend the no huddle, particularly if it is run up-tempo. The Eagles ripped the first team defense in the preseason so bad that Mark Sanchez even led two touchdown drives.
Yes, that Mark Sanchez.

The Ravens would be morons to not to come out and attack the Steelers defense with an up-tempo no huddle offense until the Steelers prove they are capable of stopping it. But then again, this is the team that built a statue of a murderer and gave Ray Rice a standing ovation, so there's no telling what they'll do next.

2. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

If there is any announcing duo that Steelers Nation hates more than one involving John Madden or one involving Chris Collinsworth, it's Nantz and Simms. However, from an entertainment standpoint, it will be interesting to see how the two - particularly CBS's top dog Jim Nantz - handles the Ray Rice situation and the growing firestorm around commissioner Roger Goodell. What's that Goodell is on fire? If only there were someone to put it out...
(Quote from 3-year-old Men's Journal article)

Of course, Harrison brought his own kind of awesome on twitter, as only James Harrison can:
All that aside, with a primtime game in front of a national audience, will Nantz and Simms address the many, many, many calls for Goodell's firing? Will they gloss over the issue altogether? Will they add their voices to the growing chorus? Either way, it should make for good theater on top of, you know, the actual football game.

3. Bounce-Back Flacco

Joe Flacco has a career 62-34 regular season record. However, he has typically been very good in weeks following a bad performance. Last week against the Bengals was pretty much the epitome of a bad performance. Even though he threw 62 passes, he completed just 56.5% for 1 TD and 1 INT. In his career, Flacco is 23-9 in games after a loss. A prime time home game against a Steelers defense that was running around like chickens with their heads cut off in the second half against the Browns would seem like a prime opportunity for Flacco. The thing the Steelers have working to their advantage is that the Ravens offensive line is absolute trash. The Steelers should be able to dominate the point of attack, particularly Cam Heyward and Jason Worilds. Joe Flacco is not Drew Brees or Tom Brady - he is not a patient quarterback that will dink and dunk all day. Flacco wants to use his big arm and take shots down the field, which require standing in the pocket behind a terrible O-line for a longer period of time. The Steelers should be able to get pressure and force throws, which will help the defense get off the field.

4. Outside Zone

Joe Flacco is not going to run a zone read or read option play. That much we know. However, the Ravens have gashed us before with running the outside zone blocking scheme (see: 2011 season opener). The scheme was essentially the same one that Gary Kubiak was running in Houston. Now, Kubiak is the offensive coordinator for the Ravens. You can bet we will see a heavy dose of the outside zone, which requires defensive linemen to be mobile and hold their gaps while linebackers flow to the ball but also do not over-run the ball. The most successful runners in Kubiak's scheme (like Arian Foster) have been excellent cut-back runners. The Steelers got burned against the Browns when West and Crowell began to exploit the over-pursuit of the linebackers and hit the cutback lanes. 

5. Steelers. Ravens.

Just those two words should be enough to get your blood boiling. I don't care that neither team is as stingy on defense as they were back in the mid-2000s when these games were a bloodbath. The final score could be in the 30s or in the 10s and this will still be one of the best rivalries in football. With the Ravens losing to the Bengals last week, this is a huge opportunity for the Steelers to not only start the season 2-0 but also nab 2 division wins out of the gate while dropping the Ravens to 0-2 against division opponents. As we found out last year, every tiebreaker scenario is important, and getting an early leg up in the division would be a tremendous start to 2014. At the end of the day, it's Steelers-Ravens. It doesn't matter how we win, just that we win. The Browns game left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, even though we won. Not so with the Ravens. A win over the Ravens, in any capacity, is a huge victory. Do whatever it takes and win the damn game.

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