Week 1 proves to be a Sunday filled with high powered offenses, and none better will be the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Baltimore Ravens… record scratch… wait…what? Did you say ‘high powered offenses’? Indeed I did. And don’t be surprised if on September 11th, we see a barn burner of a game between these two teams known for their high powered defenses.
Now I realize what I’m saying goes against all referenced history and trends when these two team play each other. But essentially, the Ravens and the Steelers have stacked the deck a bit on the offensive side of the ball while making little to no change on the defensive side. Is it completely crazy if I even suggest such a thing as a high scoring game between the defensive juggernauts? Probably, but it may not be completely inconceivable. With the past few seasons containing game outcomes of less than a TD, maybe the front offices decided to raise the stakes and acquire offense weapons that would help get some 4th quarter insurance.
The Ravens acquired some key positions at wide out, running back and guard. The acquisition of Anquan Boldin in 2010 was just the beginning for the Ravens attempting to bolster the offense. Picking up Ricky Williams this year doesn’t bother me too much, but the others leave me feeling a little unsettled. Former Buffalo Bills receiver, Lee Evans, is a huge threat to an already suspect Pittsburgh secondary. The Ravens may have taken a hit by releasing veteran Derrick Mason, but they made up for it ten fold with Evans. Next is fullback Vonta Leach from the Texans. A Pro Bowler, Leach will add some blocking power for Ray Rice. The Steelers have left Rice rather ineffective for most games, but Leach may be the thing to get that run game going. Speaking of the run game, five time Pro Bowler center Andre Gurode also joined the team. He’s slated as a back up right now, but he has the skills to easily switch to guard if needed. As the preseason motored along, the Ravens were effective racking up at least 21 points or more in three of their four games – not the low scoring Ravens we are used to hear about.
The Steelers added their own offensive chess piece this offseason – Jerricho Cotchery. Other than that, the Steelers’ roster has remained intact. The big difference for the Steelers has been in development. As I pointed out in a post from yesterday, Big Ben has a ton of options to throw to this season. The emergence of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have bolstered an already effective receiving core. The improvement of running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer will certainly allow Mendenhall to take a spell without disturbing the effectiveness of the running game. Above all else, as long as the line can block somewhat effectively, this team has explosive power waiting in every play, and they should be able to shake some of their red zone woes.
Quite frankly, I hope this Sunday’s game will be a close one. The defenses should big the bigger headline come the morning paper, but don’t be surprised if one or both of these teams rack up some substantial points when the clock hits 00:00. I know that a defensive game will be disappointing to the NFL, but us Steelers and Ravens fans will eat this stuff up. Go Steelers.