Remember the Magic 8 Ball? You ask it a question and you get vague answers like: “Ask again later,” “Outlook good,” and “My sources say no.” Trying to predict how either team will play in Sunday’s game is like asking the Magic 8 Ball a question. So, I thought of a few questions:
1. Will the Steelers’ running game be effective against the Raven’s?
The Raven’s defense was ranked 24th after playing…wait for it…the Chargers. The Chargers? Really? I hope the Steelers offense can take advantage of that. Will Tomlin’s depth chart shakeup do any good? I agree that anything would be better than last week and this may snap the players out of brooding about last week’s game. All players say they only look toward to the next game, but they’re human. A game like the Steelers played against the Browns can just hang over players. So, can the Steelers run the ball against the Ravens? The Magic 8 Ball tells me: “Reply hazy, try again.” Great. Moving on.
2. Will the Steelers’ Wide Receivers make an impact?
When the season started, Roethlisberger was throwing the ball a ton and passing yards far outweighed rushing yards. Then the running game got hot and the wide receivers seemed to be engaged only when the Steelers REALLY needed the catch, which only increased the pressure. None of the Steelers WRs are ranked in the top ten. How much of that is the because of the game plan and how much of that is because of the receiver? Well I can see arguments either way. When your number is called, you have to make the play. Perhaps the balance went too far the other way and now we’re all shaking our fingers at “crappy” WRs. I agree that Wallace has dropped a lot of balls and deserves criticism. Life’s not fair. Do your job and everyone will be happy. Antonio Brown is back and we’re waiting to Plaxico Burress to get hot. Can it happen against the Ravens? Magic 8 Ball: “Concentrate, and Ask Again.” Well, Magic 8 Ball, you’re not very helpful.
3. Will the Steelers defense be even better with Polamalu back?
Polamalu practiced on Thursday and that was a good sign. Just having him on the field may get into Flacco’s head. However, the defense, I thought, had done much better last week. I think I may be in the minority on that opinion, but stats show the Steelers D ranked first last week – AHEAD of the 49ers, Bears, Broncos, and Seahawks. So, I wonder if Polamalu’s return will enhance the defense or disrupt it. Many would contend that any defense with Polamalu is better and I agree usually. But for this game I’m wondering about continuity. Magic 8 Ball: “Cannot predict now.” Spiffy. I think I should have gone with a coin flip.
4. Will Roethlisberger play?
I’m in the camp that he should not. I think they are risking Roethlisberger’s loss for the rest of the season if they bring him back at less than 100% with that type of injury. This isn’t an ankle sprain. I realize there is division pride here and I would hate to lose to the Ravens twice in one regular season, but if he returns too soon, the price could be higher than just this game. Magic 8 Ball on Roethlisberger’s return: “Don’t count on it.” Well, OK, one answer I can believe.
5. Will this game come down to the quarterback?
Ok, seriously, in today’s NFL, what game doesn’t? Teams build around the quarterback and never have a coherent back up strategy. Duh, right? The sports media is full of doom and gloom because Roethlisberger is out. To be fair, most sports pundits initially thought the Steelers had enough good points that they could weather #7’s absence. Now after two sketchy weeks, they have turned against the entire team and said that Roethlisberger is the only player worth anything. One thing the Steelers have going for them is that this defense can rattle Flacco and his “elite” play will go out the window. I am still behind Batch, he just needs the WRs and RB to show up and play well. I hope the banged up offensive line can hang in there against the Ravens and give Batch some help too. What say you Magic 8 Ball? “As I see it, Yes.” Finally!
There is no doubt this game will be a challenge to the Steelers. An injury-free win may be too much to ask for, but I’m going to do it anyway. Magic 8 Ball: “Better Not Tell You Now.” <SIGH> Ok, so maybe I was using a Ouija board and channeling my grandmother and not the Magic 8 Ball, but either way, I hope the sports pundits are wrong and the Steelers smack the Ravens right off their perch!
Stats Courtesy of NFL.com.
Magic 8 Ball Sayings courtesy of Wikipedia