Back at it, breaking down what the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do to win (or lose) in tonight’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. My always unreliable prediction at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
– Arthur Moats plays a steady game. Mind you, not a great game. He doesn’t have to have that – he isn’t Ryan Shazier nor should anyone expect him to be. But he is the choice for next man up because of his football IQ. Alignment and communication are going to be critical. Keep your run fit, read your keys, and make the tackle. Don’t need him to win the game. Just don’t want him to lose it.
– They don’t fall for playaction. More macro sticking point for this defense. The Ravens’ offense has to work hard to manufacture big plays in the pass game and it often comes through playaction. Over routes to the X receiver. Hitting the fullback in the flats near the goal line. TE screens off turnovers. They need to be complex to open things up because they simply don’t have the weapons to win.
– They control the line of scrimmage offensively. Pretty obvious one but bouncing off what I wrote yesterday. Brandon Williams and Micheal Pierce are two bricks to try to move. You don’t want to get in third and long against this defense, where DC Dean Pees can dial up pressure (and he loves to do so).
The Ravens Will Win If…
– Their secondary steps up and shuts down. Yeah, they gotta replace Jimmy Smith with Marlon Humphrey, a rookie who has played well but will still have trouble against Antonio Brown (like everyone else). But it’s still a really good group that held AB in check the first time around. No JuJu Smith-Schuster makes me nervous because we haven’t seen the rest of this group step up the way they need to.
– They get to Big Ben. As you’ve heard Mike Tomlin talk about, rush and coverage goes together. So think of this as an extension of the first bullet point. Few teams disguise and mix things up as well as the Ravens do. They have a deep pass rushing group and on third down, get their athletes on the field. Amoeba defense (1 DL) to keep their LBs out and add an extra DB.
– Special teams keeps them in the game. The Ravens know how they have to win. It’s all about field position. For my money, they have the best punter and kicker in the NFL. Sam Koch and Justin Tucker respectively. Koch pins teams deep, their defense gets a three and out, and once their offense hits the 35 yard line, they’re comfortably in field goal range. They don’t have to go far to get points.
Baltimore is the kind of team fine having a 9-0 lead. They’re the kid who builds the baking soda volcano for the science fair. Super boring but hey, it works.