By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens are in the playoffs for the 6th time in seven seasons. The first team Baltimore will face is a team they are most familiar with. The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Ravens in round 3 of a rivalry that ranks among the best in all of sports.
Steelers on Offense:
If you’re a Ravens fan, you have a pretty good idea of what this offense is all about. It starts, as is the case with most great teams, with the quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger delivered on a MVP type season with a stat line that you’d be hard pressed to find in a video game. Big Ben finished with 32 touchdowns and 9 interceptions and 4,952 yards through the air. Against a secondary as porous as the one in Baltimore, the Steelers coaching staff must be salivating at the mouth.
Pittsburgh does have cause for concern with the injury to Le’Veon Bell. His status is up in the air for Saturday. If he’s unable to go, it’s not just the running game that will take a hit. Bell has proven to be one of the most elite pass protectors out of the backfield. He was essential in keeping Suggs and Dumervil away from Ben’s back. The Steelers will likely not have that luxury in the wild card round. That could be a serious problem for the offense as a whole as Baltimore’s pass rush can suffocate any offense in the NFL.
Steelers on Defense:
This isn’t your grandpa’s Steel Curtain. The Steelers are ranked 18th in total defense and may be without their starting corner, Ike Taylor, who is dealing with a forearm and shoulder injury. CB Brice McCain played the role of hero in Week 17 against the Bengals as he hauled in 2 interceptions. The Steelers know that games against the Ravens typically comes down to a pivotal turnover by either teams’ defense.
If the Steelers struggle to get production from their secondary, they’ll rely on a front 7 that gave Baltimore fits in November. Couple that with the fact that the Ravens offensive front is dealing with injuries to their tackles, and it may very well come down to the play in the trenches.
Mike Tomlin is in his seventh year as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach. He won his first and only Super Bowl in 2009 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Steelers currently lead the All-Time series against the Ravens 21-16. The Steelers hold a 3-0 record against Baltimore in the postseason.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.