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Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
@
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland @ 8:20 ET

Background:

The Ravens come into this game trying to redeem themselves after last week's close loss to their other rivals, the Indianapolis Colts. They remain at home, with the 12th man sure to be present in a mighty way, looking to pluck off the ailing Steelers whom stand at 6-4 and 2nd in the AFC North. The smash mouth, hard nosed rivalry will continue in prime time on Sunday night.

The Steelers come in banged up. Roethlisberger had to leave the game last week against the Chiefs with an apparent concussion and Charlie Batch, his back-up, is missing some time due to a wrist injury. Pittsburgh is coming off a 3-0 season against Baltimore that saw them win one over a controversial call and another victory in the AFC Conference game.

With a Baltimore win, the Ravens go to 6-5 and the Steelers fall to the same record. Both would be tied for 2nd in the AFC North and both would be a game behind of the Broncos and Jacksonville (if they win) in the Wild Card.

Key Match-Ups:

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Ray Lewis

Big Ben against Ray Lewis is one of the best match-ups you can find in the AFC North. Both players are having great seasons as well.

Big Ben is putting numbers up that can categorize himself as one of the better Qbs in the NFL. His 98.6 QB rating is 8th in the NFL while his completion percentage is 3rd. He has passed for the 6th most yards and is 2nd to only Drew Brees in yards per attempt. He has 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and a 4th ranked 287 yards per game.

On the other side, Ray Lewis is still showing he isn't too old to play. He is 8th in the NFL in tackles with 83 and 10th in solo tackles with 62. He also has recorded two sacks and has defended 5 passes. Even more valuable, he has caused two fumbles including the one on Santi on the goal line last Sunday.

Big Ben looks to have a big game on Sunday night as he sees a big opportunity deep down field. Fabian Washington is now on the IR and that leaves Frank Walker to take his spot. Frank Walker teaming up with Domonique Foxworth against Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes seems like a favorable match-up for Ben.

Ray Lewis also has to come up big. He will be the one who dictates whether or not the Steelers will be able to balance out their passing game with a solid run game. He also has a lot more room to cover as Terrell Suggs is out with a torn MCL at the hands of Brady Quinn (I am still bitter about that).

Players to Watch:

Ben Roethlisberger - Quarterback - Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben is coming off a head injury and is certainly a player to watch because of it. Not only will everyone be watching his play as he attempts to keep the Steelers afloat and pick apart a horrid Ravens' pass defense, but they will all also be watching his health as a concussion is nothing to play around with. Whenever the Steelers play the Ravens and vice-versa, there are hard hits on everyone and Ben is no exception this week. Pass protection will be key for Pittsburgh if they want Dennis Dixon to remain on the sideline.

Ed Reed - Safety - Baltimore Ravens



With Fabian Washington out and Frank Walker taking his place, Ed Reed will have do work his ass off to provide safety help for his crappy cornerbacks. The presence of Ed Reed dictates whether or not Ben will be able to rely heavily on the passing game.

Ed Reed is only human, though. Walker and Foxworth will be called on to cover Holmes and Ward who are one of the better 1-2 punches in the NFL. Reed can only be in one place at a time. But, we have seen him prove that theory wrong multiple times.

Reed has 42 tackles this year with 3 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions.

Paul Kruger - Outside Linebacker - Baltimore Ravens

Kruger will be, and did last week as well, replacing Terrell Suggs on defense. Kruger is the Ravens' 2nd round draft pick out of Utah and he was seen by many as a sleeper.

Now he has the chance to prove them right. In his start against the Colts, he recorded a solo tackle and that was all.

This week he has to step up the game a little bit more as he gets his first taste of the Steelers/Ravens rivalry.

Billy Cundiff - Kicker - Baltimore Ravens

Last week, Cundiff set franchise records in his first game. He booted five field goals on six attempts and accounted for all of Baltimore's 15 points.

It was a problem for Baltimore last week to cap off their drives with 7 points. It may not be any different this week as the Steelers' D is better than that of the Colts.

Cundiff will be called upon multiple times because of this and the fans now expect him to deliver.

Dawan Landry - Safety - Baltimore Ravens

With the corners of Baltimore being injured and just plain horrible and Ed Reed having his hands full, now is the time for Dawan Landry to step up. He needs to provide the help for Ed Reed that he hasn't been getting.

He needs to go back to his pre-injury form that nearly left him paralyzed.

On the year, Landry has 50 tackles and 4 interceptions.

Willie Parker & Rashard Mendenhall - Runningbacks - Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers will have to balance their passing attack with a solid running attack on Sunday night. This is especially true if something happens to Big Ben and Dennis Dixon is forced to play.

Parker and Mendenhall have combined for 201 rushing attempts, 907 yards, 4.5 yards per attempt, and 4 rushing touchdowns. But, they also have 4 fumbles and 3 of them being lost.

Predictions:

The Ravens and the crowd of 60-thousand at M&T Bank will be pumped up and ready to go for Sunday's game. Baltimore already has their purple towels ready to go.

But, there isn't much they will be able to do. The loss of Fabian Washington will hurt more than most think and the absence of Terrell Suggs will be felt dearly.

Big Ben will hang around for the entire game and torch the Ravens' secondary and Baltimore will not be able to convert in the red zone at a high rate.

This game would be a blow-out if it wasn't for the hometown crowd.

Steelers win 27-19.

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